Inflation: How can brands appeal to today’s frugal shopper?

Karen Thompson / February 2022

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On-Pack Promotions That Stand Up To Inflation

Food prices are officially on the up. Brands and retailers are left with no choice but to pass soaring costs on at the risk of losing loyal consumers. What can they do to offset this and grow market share during the turbulent times we all find ourselves in?

As an ‘older’ marketer myself, the last ‘credit crunch’ recession period (2007 – 2010) is still fresh in my mind.

In particular, the memory of how quick shoppers were to switch to cheaper own-brand substitutes.

And here we are again. As shoppers are tightening their purse-strings in response to inflation, they are thinking hard about their choices, cutting back on luxuries and are less likely to pay the higher prices of brand leaders in categories such as baked beans, cereal or tea.

Kantar reports published in February say that basket sizes are now 10% smaller than this time last year, hitting their lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic.

As brands are in no position to be slashing prices, what they need to be looking at is how they can offer something extra. Or that well-known phrase “added-value”.

Added-Value Promotions

Now is the time for shopper marketing teams to invest in clear and compelling added-value promotions to provide the edge over competitors and to get consumers to switch to or remain with their product.

Free gift-with-purchase

Free gift-with-purchase can work incredibly well at providing the necessary on-shelf standout. Typically the best performers are those where the gift has a genuine usefulness or synergy with the product or consumer profile. For example a bowl with a cereal brand, headphones with a mobile brand, or a glass with a drinks brand.

Quirky craft beer, Camden Hell’s Brewery were looking to provide added value via an on-pack promotion to stand out from their competitive set on a busy fixture and secure additional feature/promotion space. A free glass promotion worked exceptionally well for them, performing x6 better than forecasted. The glasses were obviously highly desirable with a quirky edge.

Promotions with synergy

Iconic cleaning brand Marigold provided a fantastic synergy in their gift-with-purchase by providing a touch of luxury for the precious hands which included 43k Nails Inc nail polish and 1,000 manicures to treat shoppers when they purchased their kitchen gloves. A perfect premium gift for their audience.

But it’s not only about finding the right gift. The number crunching is crucial in terms of how many people are likely to claim a free gift and how cheaply the gift can be sourced. That’s why brands like Marigold choose to work with a partner who can manage the whole caboodle at a fixed cost.

Partnerships in promotions

Brands should consider prudent partnerships which suit their overall brand positioning when looking to add value via a promotion.

The right partner means that both parties benefit from additional exposure.

Gin brand Gordon’s partnered with online flower delivery specialist Flowerbx to give Gordons customers £5 off a bunch of flowers. All shoppers had to do was scan a QR code on pack to be taken directly to the web page. Gordon’s had additional exposure on the Flowerbx website with a dedicated page of pink flower bouquets in their name. And Flowerbx benefitted from exposure on Gordon’s promotional neck collar which was driving people on to their website.

Smaller brands

“Added value” promotional marketing can prove very useful, particularly among those companies with stretched marketing budgets. Small brands should think laterally when it comes to driving purchase consideration. Inflation will have hit their budgets hard, so larger-scale advertising campaigns will be out of reach for them. In these cases stretching a promotional idea across as many low-cost media as possible. On-pack or digital promotions are a great way to achieve this.

Anyway folks, I’m here if you need me. I helped shopper teams successfully navigate through the last recession. And during that time I learnt which promotions worked and which didn’t. I’m aware it’s hard times for most of you. I hope this blog gave you food for thought and I’m at the end of the phone if you need more advice…

Beth Johnson

Umbrella Founder & MD

07879452079 |