Navigating New Forms of Volatility in the Retail Industry


Constant disruption has become part of the retail industry. How can marketers adapt through the current financial crisis?

Retailers have faced challenge after challenge throughout the past few years. From the pandemic’s acceleration of online shopping to the global supply chain disruption and cost-of-living crisis, brands face an increasingly volatile market.

Behaviors can change by the quarter, and if Deloitte’s “The retail evolution’s great acceleration” report tells us anything, it’s that constant disruption has become part of the industry. “Retail orthodoxies will continue to be challenged,” claims the report, and with fears of a recession increasing exponentially, it looks like things are about to heat up once again for the industry.

Understand Behaviors Your Campaign Drives

As people spend less in the UK, comparing the results of today’s campaigns to previous successes will feel uncomfortable; weaker, at least at a “revenue-generated” level. But that doesn’t mean marketing teams aren’t hitting the right chords, nor that campaigns aren’t driving value. 

This isn’t the time to do year-on-year comparisons based on total revenue generated. Instead, it’s an important time to make sure you’re effectively measuring incrementality — and the key to achieve this will be investing in your reporting capability to make sure you clearly understand the incremental behaviors your campaigns are driving, for who, when and where.

This shift in focus will become even more crucial for marketers operating in the retail space. Yes, sales are likely to decrease, but demonstrable effectiveness and progress are still achievable. 

In response to the cost-of-living crisis, some might stick to the traditional school of thought, batten down the hatches on marketing and cut costs. On the other hand, businesses can take a chance on enhancing customer relationships, understanding that investments into customer loyalty in times of volatility will benefit their brands in the long run. I believe in the second option, but in order for marketers to drive change during the economic downturn, they need to be smart about how they spend their budgets, focusing on customer-centricity and digital transformation.

Related Article: The Challenges Marketers Face Going Customer-Centric

Data-Driven Perspective Is Everything

If marketers look at the current state of the retail industry from a data-driven perspective rather than focusing on transactional opportunities, they should be fascinated by what’s ahead: an increasingly, technology-literate shopper base that interacts more and more frequently with retailers across multiple channels, creating more customer data for marketers to leverage. This is everything.

By leveraging their first-party data to their advantage, retailers can look in detail at the things that matter, such as the incremental value their programs drive. This is essential for those that see achieving customer intimacy as the solution for adversity in retail. Of course, loyalty has always been necessary, but if we take into account that consumer confidence is at a record low and inflation is at its highest rates in 40 years, it’s never been more vital for retailers to retain it. 



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