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How Resilient Yorkshire Businesses Can Navigate the Shift in Consumer-Business Power Dynamics

UK interest rates and inflation are on the rise and a cost of living crisis is in full swing, impacting both consumers and businesses alike. This is shifting the relationship between businesses and consumers. Here in Yorkshire, businesses can adapt – if they pay close attention to consumer priorities.

Accenture’s recent research reveals the UK is cutting back spending and becoming more cynical towards social media marketing. Yorkshire is feeling the financial pressure, with 25% of the region’s consumers limiting the premium brands they purchase from and abandoning brand loyalty in favour of cheaper alternatives.

The research explored the rise of ‘de-influencers’ – online personalities encouraging consumers to boycott certain trends and brands in favour of more sustainable and cost-effective alternatives. 22% of UK consumers said they’d interacted with this type of content since the start of the cost-of-living crisis, while 16% said they’d actively unfollowed accounts portraying an “unrealistic” lifestyle.

In Yorkshire, these figures are having significant impacts on consumers’ spending. 19% of consumers in the region say they’re less likely to be swayed by influencers or social media content since the start of the cost of living crisis, while more than half (55%) have spent nothing on products recommended by influencers in the past 12 months.

Consumers are still spending – they’re just streamlining their costs and searching for more affordable options. Responsive businesses stand to gain the custom and loyalty of those who are searching for alternatives, as long as they understand and cater to their new motivations and priorities.

Accenture’s ‘Life Trends’[1] provide some insight. Consumers are seeking value and control of personal budgets, but aren’t willing to sacrifice ethical and sustainability concerns.

Businesses have a range of options to cater to these priorities, including:

Providing budget-friendly options that require short commitments and allow customers to feel in control and extract the most value.

Car leases appeal to those who can’t justify the long-term commitment of buying a car due to uncertain economic outlook and insurers can now provide daily and even hourly cover via apps.

In the fashion market, Accenture research found that over a third (34%) of people are less likely to update their summer wardrobe than they were before the cost of living crisis. However, the second-hand and rental clothing markets are continuing to uplift. These allow consumers to rent occasion wear online and buy or sell second-hand clothing. This lowers costs while also catering to desires for environmentally-friendly options.

Providing a well-incentivised loyalty scheme to reward and retain customers. There is an option for every organisation’s budget  – from physical loyalty cards to apps.

Businesses must put themselves in the shoes of the consumer when considering what kinds of rewards to offer. No longer satisfied with discounts or irrelevant freebies, most are attracted by the offer of real money back as it represents the most value for cash-strapped wallets.

A tangible, valuable proposition is essential to winning customer loyalty in a cost of living crisis, but the channels brands use to market and communicate are just as important under increasing consumer scrutiny.

It is vital that businesses are aware of changing consumer attitudes to ensure they continue to cater to the most pressing needs of their customers.

[1] Accenture Song Life Trends 2023

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