Tag Archives: Brexit

Predictions: It’s getting personal…

Bexit

Start planning now to remain relevant to your customer base as we move into 2019

Much as I might want to avoid the subject, it is impossible to look at retail predictions for 2019 without looking through the lens of Brexit. As the uncertainty continues over a possible deal, I want to try and think about the effect it will have on retailers in 2019, what is probably concerning them and what, if anything, we can do to brace ourselves.

I watched with interest the Channel 4 live debate show, Brexit: What the Nation Really Thinks, which aired in November. Survation interviewed 20,000 people online across the UK from 20 October to 2 November 2018 in the biggest ever independent Brexit opinion poll, to try to decipher how the country would vote now and why. The fascinating results were revealed live on air and I could clearly see a variety of statistics that retailers should take heed of when thinking about their 2019 retail strategy.

The headline was, if the referendum was re-run, there would be a swing toward remain at 53 per cent to 47 per cent. In terms of the economic outlook, overall 44 per cent think Brexit will be bad for the economy, versus 31 per cent thinking it will be good. This overall national mood of ‘regrexit’ seems borne out by the current economic data. The Gfk consumer confidence index in the UK dropped to -10 in October 2018, as the Brexit impasse affected how consumers felt about the economy despite easing inflationary pressures. This deteriorating consumer confidence is being played out on the high street where we are seeing a continuing stream of store closures – not just because of Brexit, but certainly not helped by it.

In fact, hedge funds have amassed a £1.4bn bet against high streets with economists warning a crucial Christmas period will hinge on a pre- Christmas Brexit deal. The latest footfall data from Springboard shows a two per cent decline in October 2018, a steeper decline than September 2018. So, a clear picture, right? Well, not entirely. The detail of the Channel 4 programme helped to expose the far from unified picture of consumer intention. There appears to be a trend in voting by age group, which is imperative for retailers to note when thinking about their 2019 retail strategy as it’s linked to their financial independence.

To start with, a clear majority of voters aged 54+ would vote to leave again, the percent in favour of leave versus remain is almost identical in every age group upward. Interestingly for pensioners 75+ views are even more hardened with more now in favour of leaving.

In terms of the views of the economic outlook post-Brexit while 45-year-olds and younger now overwhelmingly have a negative view, for 55-64-year-olds it is much tighter. Over a third (34 per cent) think it will be good, versus 40 per cent bad and for 65-74-year-olds a majority think it will be positive, 42 per cent think it will be good, versus 35 per cent bad.

With regard to personal finances, a clear majority of consumers aged 54+ think Brexit will either be good or make no impact to their personal finances. There are two factors behind this; firstly, they are after all ‘Generation Wealth’, with more assets so therefore less likely to be directly impacted by any adverse effects. Additionally, as a majority wanted to vote ‘leave’ anyway, they were clearly unimpressed by what they see as ‘project fear’ from the remain side about some of the reported negative financial impacts.

However, for worried millennials a far different picture emerges. They are more in favour of the EU than ever before. Sixty-seven per cent of 25-34-year-olds would now vote remain, against 56 per cent who voted remain in 2016. Among this age group just 24 per cent think Brexit will be good for the economy versus 50 per cent bad. In terms of their personal financial situation, again the reverse of the older age groups is true. Fourty four per cent of 25-34-year-olds think it will be bad, against 18 per cent good, with 22 per cent thinking it will make no difference. This is perhaps not surprising when you consider they were firmly against Brexit from the start, are less secure in their jobs and have a hampered opportunity of working in Europe.

So what does this mean for retailers? As older consumers are more confident in our ability to forge ahead without EU membership, if a deal is settled, could we see the baby boomers create a mini-boom on the high street? Insulated from any of the more negative personal financial impact of Brexit and with more confidence in the country’s future and their own economic situation, could this lead them to spend more? This demographic is also far more likely to visit bricks and mortar stores. And for millennials worried about their personal financial security as well as the economy, retailers need to entice them to shop. Millennials seek out experiences, which also applies to the way they shop. Retailers need to engage with this audience through the customer journey, making any purchase a positive experience.

An understanding of these varying motivations, and the different demographics, their mindsets and their spending power, can make a big difference to retail strategy. Also, being agile, flexible and able to react quickly to the buying signals, especially in relation to pricing and promotion strategies for millennial audiences to try to entice them to spend, let alone spend more. Just as the outcome of the negotiation won’t satisfy all political parties or a now fractured population, neither will a one-size-fits-all retail strategy. Start planning now to remain relevant to your customer base as we move into 2019.

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Counting the cost of Brexit

The ERT Turning point Summit held in February touched on the many opportunities that face independent retail.

Like it or not, I refer to these as opportunities, as challenges paints a negative picture rather than an optimistic future in the most dynamic of industries – technology.

One area that we must remain optimistic about, as it’s a certainty, is Brexit and the impact this is having on trading even before Brexit has happened. By the time you read this, the Government will have triggered Article 50, starting the process of extricating the UK from the EU.

When the vote happened, there was much debate regarding the immediate impact in trading. In August, I wrote: “Any price increases will certainly not be absorbed by resellers, and will instead be passed on to the end user”. With the significant fall in sterling against the dollar (10 per cent) and euro (seven per cent), many brands chose to use this as reason to make trading that little bit more difficult for retail, in particular technology.
First to raise the average price of every product by 10 per cent was Dell, later followed by Apple who chose to increase prices by around 25 per cent again across every product, with a MacBook Pro jumping from £999 to £1,249. It wasn’t just hardware, however, as apps all increased from 79p to 99p and £7.99 to £9.99, all on the back of the Brexit vote and currency fluctuations.

Microsoft followed with an 11 per cent increase, and more recently Sonos, with what are now ‘old’ products, increased their pricing by 25 per cent across the entire range which took effect on February 23, taking a Play:1 from £169 to £199 and Play:5 from £429 to £499.

In the MDA category, although not a blanket price increase, many European brands, including Siemens and Indesit, are demanding payment in euros from distributors, pushing up retail prices due to a ‘trickle-down’ effect resulting from the increasingly unpredictable and unfavourable exchange rate.
These brands have something in common: they are category leaders and, to a certain extent, dictate the development of their respective categories through a rigid pricing structure and go-to-market plan. What they perhaps do not appreciate is that consumers aren’t stupid and can choose to opt for other brands with more appealing price points – an opportunity for emerging and established brands and retailers to explore.

The challenge for retail is how to up-skill your work force to continue selling the same products they’ve always sold successfully, but now at a higher price point. Sales teams will have to work harder to close a sale, and perhaps longer, but for no incremental benefit to you. Retailers don’t benefit in the same manner from what some may consider an arbitrary price increase, with only a slight or no increase in margin.

While many who voted ‘out ‘may have never considered that the costs of goods we import would go up, the reality is that it becomes a convenient rationale for many brands to apply an increase, blaming Brexit, and passing the cost on to consumers rather than absorbing this themselves. This is likely to be applied across every category.

Away from tech, others brands, such as Tesla and Lego, have both applied a five per cent increase, stating that this action was taken as “direct result of the continuing devaluing of the UK pound”. We saw what happened when Unilever tried to increase the cost of products such as Marmite by 12.5 per cent – the public made it known that they have a choice and they would choose to abandon a brand for a similar product. You need to have rather good brand equity to successfully manage price increases that impact on your loyal customers’ pockets.

Call it a ‘Brexit levy’ if you like, but let’s be realistic: it’s not going away. With Article 50 triggered, currency fluctuations could prove to be more negative and incur further price hikes. On the other hand, they could become positive, but if so I suspect we won’t see brands roll back price increases, instead retaining their increased pricing model to establish range pricing.

Whatever the outcome, market economics means retailers of all types must remain optimistic and have a clear vision of hope as they navigate the future. This includes pushing back on brands that make it harder to sell. Perhaps by introducing into your categories new or up-and-coming brands that could offer you more margin and your customers a better product at a reasonable price they are happy to pay.

 

Read more at: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/counting-the-cost-of-brexit/

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With 23 days to go until the EU Referendum, Gekko research has identified that a possible Brexit vote is not hindering shopper confidence

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A new survey from Field Marketing agency Gekko has revealed that consumer confidence is stable in the face of stark warnings from both sides of the EU debate. Asking 2,000 UK shoppers whether they were worried about the threat of Brexit when making a purchase decision, the survey found that over half (51%) of consumers do not feel the need to put off making an important purchase until after the referendum result. This is especially relevant for older generations, with the survey finding that 60% of those 55 and over are confident in the state of the economy leading up to June 23rd. Thinking about the results of the referendum, a significant 73.5% of UK consumers stated that their decision to make an important purchase would not be affected by the result. In fact, only 6.4% of consumers felt a vote to leave would dissuade them from making a considered purchase such as a consumer electronics or domestic appliance product, which are rarely purchased on impulse.

The survey also found that, despite many brands coming out in favour of either side of the referendum, a high proportion (61.3%) of UK consumers feel that brands should stay out of politics all together, instead leaving the argument to the politicians. This is strong message for many big brands which have come out in favour of either side of the referendum, including Unilever, Ryan Air, EasyJet, HSBC and Marks & Spencer. However, these brands shouldn’t fear any consumer backlash from their stance – whilst the majority feel they shouldn’t get involved in politics, 49% don’t change their opinion of a brand depending on their stance, and only 21% have indicated that they have a negative opinion of brands that do not share their view. Most consumers will still buy a brand regardless of their political leanings.

Daniel Todaro, Managing Director Gekko Group, said: “what’s clear for brands is that consumers are currently very apathetic towards the possible economic impact of Brexit. Brands warning people against leaving the EU are failing to get the economic message across as 32% of consumers polled remain unsure or unaware of the impact of import tariffs being imposed post Brexit.”

“Looking at the high street, brands and retailers should not be putting off any product launches or promotions, as consumer confidence looks to remain high. However brands should avoid entering into political debate where they can. These results are good news for retailers who might have otherwise expected a dip in sales depending on the result.”

Read more at: http://fieldmarketing.com/news/gekkos-2000-shopper-survey-finds-brexit-vote-isnt-hindering-shopper-confidence/

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