Why value and values win in a recessionary market

The great reset. How’s it working out for you?

Have you optimised your working hours? Do you structure meetings differently? Have you cracked the hybrid model?

I question if anyone has ever defined the ‘great reset’ and I’m not sure if anyone has cracked it in a meaningful way, but … we can. As long as we ’re honest with each other.

To make change that we say we want, and our people ask for, then the conversation should be focused on where we are, as an industry, in the transition to a knowledge era. Instead, we often find ourselves describing work practices with a new language – but with the same controls, power and focus on where we work than how.

The marketing, creative and communications sector should be the powerhouses of the knowledge era. We trade, value, and share our knowledge so it becomes something tangible – a TV ad, an image, a story…

Yet, the debate around working patterns, style, and attitudes to it are just replicating what has been done in different locations rather than being truly honest about the work now and into the future.

It has become so binary about home OR office. At no point do we consider the work to be done and quite frankly it is all so tiresome.

To be free of judgement we need ask questions.
Natasha Plowman
Managing Partner ESG & Corporate Reputation, MSL

First things first: let’s acknowledge the problem is much bigger than brands and communications, but brands and communications can help. OK. How?

Value. Value. Value. Easy. End of opinion piece.

Every business needs to reassess its value proposition and ensure their brands are on the right side of value. It could be more for less, the same for less, or a new budget-tailored approach offering less for less. Bottom line: be more essential, be less substitutable, be more buyable. In this market, your value proposition becomes as important as your wider brand proposition.

But I don’t think it ends there.

Today, more than ever, audiences expect more from the brands they choose to buy from.

Of course, value is a primary driver, but I believe values will continue to have a strong role to play in creating confidence and ongoing loyalty.

And this is where PR really comes into its own, because no other channel allows you to show your human side as strongly or quickly.

Be more transparent to help audiences understand the decisions and changes you’re making. Make more of the community contributions you support. Be genuinely useful with new utility that allows people to enjoy more value. Be more vocal. Take a stand on the issues your audiences face. Be visible and allow your people the platforms to show their human side. Because ultimately, people connect with people, not with policies. Stay committed to your sustainability strategies, not just because the regulators demand it. The climate crisis is bigger than any single economic cycle.

The pandemic created the values playbook for us here. The brands and organisations that allowed their values to guide their contributions stood out and succeeded.

And it’s not just the right thing to do morally, but right for the business too. Kantar’s Brand Z research shows strong brands recovered nine times faster than weaker brands following the financial crisis of 2008.

As we head into a potential recession and navigate the challenges of the coming months, we’re rightly going to hear a lot of value messaging focusing on ‘Less’. Maybe values is the added lever that brings ‘More’?

Chris McCafferty is chief executive of MSL UK