Re-Aim Your Marketing: What's in your customers' wallets?
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Re-Aim Your Marketing: What's in your customers' wallets?

Re-Aim Your Marketing: What's in your customers' wallets?

For most of you, marketing comes down to a share-of-wallet battle, and you’re good at it. That was an appropriate philosophical approach during the past decade or so, when the economy was consistently rising and people generally had jobs and money. It even worked after the first year of the pandemic as government payments supplemented most peoples’ incomes.

We’re currently in a very low unemployment period, so it’s logical to assume wallets are still filled with money, and that you should aim your marketing campaigns at getting your share. However, the times they are a-changin’, and if you want your future marketing efforts to be effective you need to do more research. These statistics should compel you to want to know more about your target audience:

• 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck

• 70% of Americans feel some form of financial stress

• Wages are growing, but still at a slower pace in the face of inflation

• Nearly 1/3 have more credit card debt than emergency savings

• Minimum wage has not increased in 27 states

• 75% worry about future layoffs; almost 40% fear for their own employment

Do any of your target consumers touch these categories?

Follow the money

Unless you’re the federal government, there is a rational limit to how much further consumer debt can continue on its current trajectory. Delinquency stress is beginning to show itself. Expect student debt to jump dramatically as the student loan repayment pause looks to be ending. If your target consumers are part of these statistics, their wallets are getting thinner—further compounded by the dramatic rise in the cost of carrying their growing debt. Interest rates are up 5% or more across debt categories. So what should you do to build marketing messages that will be effective?

First, understand how much money will likely be in the wallets of the consumers you’re targeting over the next 12 to 24 months. While the aggregate numbers (mortgages, HELOCs, auto loans, credit cards, student loans, etc.) get our attention, we are advising and helping our clients to go deeper into the data to know how best to position their marketing and get a better handle on unit sales expectations. Consumer financial conditions are becoming more uneven.

Annual wage growth across U.S. states ranges from a negative 2.3% to a positive 7.1%. Unemployment rates range from 1.9% to 5.4%. Those are big swings. Obviously, geography matters, so messaging may have to adapt to regional and local economic conditions.

Second, understand how demographics have shifted since the pandemic. After the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, almost everyone sharply reduced discretionary spending. However, few anticipated that Millennials considered personal service expenses as a necessary expense, shepherding in a decade of fast growth in salons, fitness, and related businesses in the personal services sector. Millennials didn’t behave as expected.

Now we have another generation to sell to—and some would argue Gen Zers don’t behave at all. As unappealing as it may seem to some of you, get into their heads. They’re wired differently, and the pandemic is changing preferences across generational groups. If they’re part of your targeted consumers, understanding how each of these groups views the world today is a key to successful marketing campaigns.

Finally, understand you are not marketing against a defined set of competitors in 2023. In the past 12 months, we’ve identified 446 new franchise brands indicating an intention to franchise through an FDD filing. That’s almost double the pre-2020 figure. Further, 35% of these 446 are well-funded platforms and/or private equity, and many have experienced franchise management teams. Some are bringing new operational solutions to the business model itself, not least of which is in technology applications. It’s best to know something about what they’re bringing to the table.

Successful marketing over the next year or two will require you to conduct deeper research than you needed during the fairly predictable past decade. So, I come back to the question of the day. What’s in their wallets?

Darrell Johnson is CEO of FRANdata, an independent research company supplying information and analysis for the franchising sector since 1989. He can be reached at 703-740-4700 or djohnson@frandata.com.

Published: November 13th, 2023

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