Brand is king of the Christmas table
THE year 2016 has been a mixed one for brands with many controversies across sectors damaging public trust and negative views of brand becoming more and more common.
It is, therefore, heartwarming to see recent research from Mintel reveal brand is king at Christmas time, with the majority of Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland shoppers more likely to opt for branded goods when shopping for fresh and fridge/frozen items for Christmas.
When buying cupboard items such as tinned goods, sweets and snacks, shoppers show a stronger preference for branded items – particularly for crisps and nut snacks and sweets and confectionary.
Key exceptions are fruit & vegetables, with shoppers more likely to opt for own-brand and prepared meals and shoppers most likely to show no preference.
Consumers really feel the festive vibe around food, with approximately a third of shoppers noting that they are more likely to buy products in Christmas themed packaging.
The strength of brand is even more apparent when buying drinks - NI and RoI shoppers are more likely to buy branded variants of soft drinks, beers, wines and spirits than own-label offerings.
Although, 64 per cent of RoI and 63 per cent of NI shoppers noted they would be happy to receive own-label Christmas food/drink as a gift.
Many shoppers admit buying more than they need to at Christmas time – 56 per cent of NI and 58 per cent of RoI shoppers saying in the past they have bought too much food.
However, even at Christmas, we hate waste – with 74 per cent of NI and 79 per cent of RoI shoppers reporting they feel bad when festive food goes to waste.
With growing consumer concern with food waste, many opt for items that come in packaging to help preserve freshness and take steps to reduce food waste (ie freezing leftovers).
As custodians of brand, what can marketers learn from customers' overwhelming demonstration of brand loyalty at Christmas time and how can we harness the love all year around?
Marketers need to recognise that customers want a well-defined and strong brand promise – one that links your purpose and positioning with your customer.
Brand promise is much more than something that needs to be defined, then communicated to the customer. It needs to be delivered on, and refreshed, every day, throughout the year.
It can't just be a theoretical standpoint; it needs to be injected into everything you do, internally and externally – and it needs to be repeated incessantly. It's not good enough just to implement something, you need to explain why you've done it.
Mintel's research also shows consumers have a conscience – brand promise is not just about what you do but how you do it. Organisations must act ethically – if you do the right things, brand can be the medium through which customers can share their love and show you their loyalty all year.
:: Carol Magill is CIM network manager for Ireland