How your brand can build confidence
After the enforced inactivity of lockdown, the UK is trying to get back to work. But research from several countries indicates that it will take more than removing the restrictions of lockdown to drive an economic recovery. Consumers and businesses want to feel secure, before they resume “normal” activity. In such a challenging environment, understanding how your brand can build confidence in your customers, is a great advantage.
Coronavirus brought global economic activity to a standstill. The UK has been hit harder than most countries, entering the deepest recession since records began, with GDP dropping 20.4% in the second quarter. Despite an improvement, since the relaxation of lockdown conditions, the economic recovery is slow. The number of redundancies increases weekly, and there are fears of a surge in job losses when the furlough scheme finishes at the end of October.
The importance of confidence
However, global research suggests that it will take more than legislation to drive economic growth. In June Germany’s central bank observed that “The behavior of consumers—and enterprises—became increasingly cautious”, even when lockdown restrictions were removed. A survey of US consumers found that more than half were “cautious” or “uncomfortable” about reengaging in their daily routines. The solution, for almost 75% of respondents, is finding a vaccine.
Economic intervention is not enough. The European Central Bank warned in July that “the global outlook remains dominated by the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic… the increase in new cases in many countries renders the global recovery highly uncertain.” The world needs to overcome the medical challenge, before it can overcome the economic one.
What this means for UK businesses is that you can’t wait for central or local government to give your customers the confidence they need to do business. You need to do it yourself. You need to understand how your brand can build confidence in your customers.
There are two kinds of confidence you can give to your customer: physical confidence and financial confidence.
This is all about giving your customers confidence in their physical well-being. If you are in retail, hospitality, professional services – any sector where you need or want customers to visit your premises, you need to consider how you can do this.
Your brand is the experience people have of your business. In many sectors the physical environment can be a significant factor in the quality of your brand experience. The quality and quantity of your coronavirus signage is part of this. A handwritten sign and an arrow taped onto the floor, might not reassure your customers of your interest in their well-being. But well presented, printed signage may be more successful in giving them confidence.
It’s important to recognise that measures hastily introduced in the spring, are probably not appropriate now, six months into the coronavirus crisis. Customers will expect you to have invested the time and money needed to adapt your working environment to the challenges of doing business in a pandemic.
The behaviour of your customers – and staff – in the physical environment is also important. If customers see others flouting the rules (failing to wear masks, for example), it poses a significant risk to your reputation. It will undermine customers’ confidence in your business and your ability to keep them safe. Your customers want to see you take control of your environment and enforce the rules. If you fail to, it could damage your customers’ perception of your brand and their willingness to do business with you.
This is all about giving your customers confidence in their financial well-being. Your customers – whether they are consumers or businesses – need to believe that spending money on your products or services is a good use of their budget.
Consumers have an appetite for change. Research, in August (by McKinsey), indicated that 40% of consumers had switched brands or retailers. In the UK, 52% of consumers switched because they found better value elsewhere. 48% did it because they found cheaper prices. The needs and expectations of customers are changing – so you need to adapt.
The first step in this process is demonstrating relevance. Your customers need to believe that your products or services have the potential to meet their needs. What is important, with existing customers, is that although certain aspects of life may be getting back to “normal”, things have still changed. Aspects of your products or services that were relevant to them at the start of the year, may not be now, nine months later.
You then need to convince customers that what you are offering is the best option available. At this point, you need a strong proposition that articulates the benefit your products or services will provide. Your customers are looking for a compelling reason to choose you. If you can’t give them one, they will look elsewhere.
Time to take the lead
In an environment of uncertainty, customers are looking for reassurance. They want to feel confident about the future. In a situation where the rules about how we live and work change almost weekly, this can be difficult.
So businesses need to take the lead. As a business leader, you need to harness the power of your brand. You need to take the time to understand how your brand can build confidence in your customers. If you can give your customers the confidence to do business, you will create a competitive advantage, and lay a foundation for growth.
Get in touch
If you would like to have a chat about how your brand can build confidence in your customers, drop us an email. It would be great to hear from you!
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