Reaching the cost-conscious consumer: it's a matter of mindset

May 18, 2023 | 5 minute read
Mike Hemmings
Head of Audience and Contextual Insights
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If you're anything like the other 72% of people out there right now, price has become the primary driver in how and where to shop, according to a recent survey conducted by Oracle Retail. 

For the last 12 months, we've been in the midst of a global Inflation crisis due to the combination of the War in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, and COVID-19. These factors have changed the essence of what it means to be a consumer of goods and services. It seems we're all consuming less – 88% of people are now cutting back due to the inflation crisis, prioritizing needs over wants. 

Our approach to the products we are choosing to invest in is changing. We've begun questioning our brand selection, posing questions such as: Is it essential? Can we afford it? Is there a cheaper alternative? Will it last longer than my usual brand? Our focus on efficiency has changed the profile of our typical 'buyer missions.' 

When buyer missions change to this degree, it's imperative that the marketing messaging and contextual ad placement change along with them. 

At Oracle Advertising, we've identified three major trends and opportunities from this evolved consumer mindset. We've also provided some actionable recommendations for leveraging contextual targeting tools to meet your changing needs. 

1: Financial pressures increase time spent online and opportunities to engage  

It's no surprise that financial pressures are leading more of us to spend less time out of the home where retail temptation is rife. With more of us at home, we're spending more time online. This trend was evident in both the Great Recession of 2007 and the COVID-19 recession, where both saw a doubling in the acceleration of internet use vs. non-recessionary periods (2.6% to 5.9% month-on-month growth).

With more people online, brands have a greater opportunity to engage current and potential buyers on these online journeys. As we've all heard stated many times over, advertisers who spend during a recession have been shown to strengthen brand affinity, increase their market share due to reduced competition (and lower CPMs), and provide brand presence and support during these challenging times.   

2: Increased online use, different missions 

As we've already touched on, our journeys online are more value-orientated due to inflationary pressures. We don't need to look very far to see this in action – whether it's automotive, CPG, or retail brands, campaign creative has already shifted towards savings and efficiency-based messaging – unfortunately, this is not always reflected in the ad placement. Let's take the example of an SUV manufacturer who may have targeted golf content to reach golfers in the promotion of their spacious trunks. 

Today, SUV drivers are more inclined to look at fuel efficiency and finance options; therefore, more contextually relevant ad placement would be alongside this type of efficiency and financing-based content. But this goes far beyond the big purchases – consumers are scrutinizing everything, from toothpaste to takeaways. 

Have you considered what the new value hooks look like for your brand? It may be cost, but it could easily be trust, heritage, or product lifespan factors that your buyers are now prioritizing. In fact, 90% of consumers are now stating that they are exploring new brand options, including store brands vs. their pantry staples. This makes it the perfect opportunity to bring new buyers into the fold. It can be achieved through better contextually relevant placement on relevant content that captures them during the buyer's journey through awareness, interest, and consideration stages. 

3: Brand sensitivity is another arm of brand safety and suitability 

Sensitivity in the context of brand safety, is simply about ensuring an appropriate tone of the surrounding content. When it comes to the cost-of-living crisis, consumers are joining online conversations in a mindset of financial insecurity, and so sensitivity must be considered if you're a brand looking to engage in conversation. For instance, ad placement across luxury content, when many people are simply struggling to pay the bills will undermine the relatability of your brand.   

While the cost-of-living crisis and associated challenges occupy our thoughts, it also features within a massive 27% of online biddable inventory. And within this unavoidable topic, 34% of content features' fear' as a key sentiment. (Oracle Contextual Insights 2023) 

Unfortunately, fear cannot, and should not, be avoided when it comes to contextual ad placement. After all, fear is at the heart of the cost-conscious missions that your consumers are now on, and ignoring this mindset would be the advertising equivalent of burying your head in the sand. 

But don't take our word for it; in a study by the IPA, 57% of consumers now expect their brands to be supportive in these challenging times, with 63% willing to switch the brand if they are not seen to be doing enough to help them save money. Therefore, removing oneself from these sensitive issues is simply not an option. 

Accurate, sensitive, and supportive placement is key, and this can only be achieved using contextual profiling tools. 

How can brands adapt to reach these new missions and cost-conscious consumers sensitively? 

Context was built for this type of understanding and protection. The background noise or the 'contexts' in which we now consume advertising has changed both in terms of economic contexts but also our own personal contexts. It's, therefore, no surprise that contextual products provide the perfect solution to target these types of sets of content (aka contexts) that consumers are now gravitating towards. 

Solutions such as Oracle's Predicts will target these reams of unknown, 'brand untethered' online users who are now actively reviewing and seeking new opportunities to meet their new, more efficiency-based buying needs.  

Sensitivity and suitability can be carefully managed with Custom Brand Safety solutions as there is now more risk than ever for insensitive and unsafe brand placement, considering this backdrop of insecurity and fear. 

Today's cost pressures are also impacting the broader advertising community, making it imperative that agencies and brands select the proven solutions to deliver a return on ad spend. Recent research from a Forrester Consulting Study revealed that, on average, customers using Oracle's Contextual Intelligence experienced a 105% ROI, offering confidence in performance across this suite of products. 

At Oracle, we offer a 100% managed service that can tailor targeting and safety segments to meet these new challenges providing you confidence in efficient and safe reach for your upcoming campaign activity.

To learn more about Contextual Targeting and how we can support your targeting and safety needs, please contact your Oracle Advertising Account Manager or The Data Hotline.

Mike Hemmings

Head of Audience and Contextual Insights

Mike leads the Insights service for Oracle Advertising in EMEA & JAPAC. This consultative service is helping to bring actionable insights to brands and agencies to facilitate more effective audience reach and campaign efficiencies. Mike has worked across a multitude of media channels in B2B advertising and marketing for 20+ years as a consultant, as well as leading teams in marketing leadership roles for the likes of CBS, Emap and Grapeshot.

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