JWT London’s Q2 Austerity Index charts Britons’ property woes

Austerity Index 2014 Q2

Three out of five Britons believe London is doomed to become “a ghetto for the super-rich.” This is one of several provocative findings that surfaced in JWT London’s sixth Austerity Index report, revealing a boiling pot of anxiety and tensions that are condensing into a hard-line stance on housing market regulation. As competition rises and affordability dips, a backlash is finding its target in immigrants, “transplants” and investors: Over a third of respondents in our study would even make it illegal for non-nationals to own property in the U.K.

Along with tracking the usual metrics to gauge the effect of prolonged austerity on British consumers, the latest survey looks at housing, which is becoming a serious and emotive problem in Britain. As wages have stagnated and mortgage lending criteria have constricted, the outlook for aspiring property buyers seems bleak. JWT London’s survey shows that almost half of those yet to start on the property ladder make a direct link between home ownership and their own self-worth. And while 46 percent of those unable to get onto the property ladder fear for their futures, 48 percent have lost hope that their grandchildren will ever own property in the U.K.

Marie Stafford, Planning Foresight Director at JWT London, explains: “The significance of property in the population’s psyche is somewhat exceptional to the U.K. compared to our neighbours in Europe, where renting is the norm. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting keener, and nowhere is this felt more strongly than in the property market.”

The full report is available to download at austerityindex.com, along with reports from previous quarters.

Royal Bank of Canada taps into anxiety around home mortgages in faux movie trailers

The ever-rising cost of housing across key markets has long been a source of anxiety for Canadians—an important factor for banks to be conscious of when finding ways to connect with their consumers. A recent report by Royal Bank of Canada highlights that point of anxiety. Based on Statistics Canada’s most recent Survey of Financial Security, the report uses data broken out by household age. And while the ongoing rise in home prices has meant increased net worth for many older Canadians, it’s meant more debt for younger ones.

Royal Bank of Canada has used dynamic ways to connect with this cohort of new home buyers and help ease the stress that comes along with a first mortgage. Earlier this year they posted faux movie trailers to YouTube that reflect the different types of stress encountered in the mortgage process. For the overwhelmed, they created a drama, and there’s a horror theme for those intimidated by it all; for people who are more excited than stressed, there’s a romantic comedy.

The campaign, which includes clickable links to relevant RBC sites and social content, taps into consumer anxiety and positions RBC as an understanding expert in the process. As home prices continue to rise and uncertainty about the debt taken on remains, banks will need to find more ways to reassure and aid consumers.

TD Bank, Nutrella, Honda focus on bringing cheer and surprise to consumers

We’re living in a Super Stress Era (one of JWT’s 10 Trends for 2013), and news headlines filled with what seems like more doom and gloom than normal are only driving more stress and anxiety among consumers. Brands can help lift spirits by offering consumers some unexpected moments of cheer. Earlier this summer, TD Bank scored a viral hit after it created a few special ATMs that dispensed gifts to loyal patrons in Canada, part of its “TD Thanks You” campaign; these customers got anything from extra cash to a ticket to visit a faraway daughter with cancer. The smile-inducing video has garnered 10 million-plus views.

To illustrate its tagline “Awakens a smile in you,” Brazilian bread brand Nutrella also jumped on the joy bandwagon with its “Friendly Mirror”: a mirror placed around public places that gave random compliments to people walking by. (An idea similar to Avon’s 2011 “Miraculous Mirror” campaign in Slovakia.) Meanwhile, in early August, Honda promoted its annual summer clearance event with a “Summer Cheerance” campaign, which included a “Cheerance” playlist in tandem with Pandora, piñatas for passersby to swing at, a “Stand Here for Cheer” box (which released surprises like saxophone serenades and a bouquet-toting bear) and silly fun in partnership YouTube celebrity Andrew Hales.

For consumers weighed down by anxieties, marketers have the opportunity to be a bright spot, building a brand narrative based in joy.

KFC harkens back to cheaper times with fuel $5 Fill-Up promotion

Although gas prices have held at roughly the same level for the past three years in the U.S., pain at the pump is still a consumer concern. (Myriad brands have sought ways to ease consumer anxiety over gas prices: Grocery chains including Costco and Kroger, for instance, offer gas savings tied to purchases; we’ve written about Morrisons’ Fuel Saver program in the U.K.) KFC recently offered a nostalgic panacea with a throwback to better days—a time “when you could get a hot, delicious meal and fill up your car for just $5,” as a press release put it—by providing lunch and a tank full of gas for only five bucks to promote its new $5 Fill-Up meals.

The promotion was for one day only at a service station in Louisville, Ky., and included a Colonel Sanders character pumping gas. A companion Twitter “fill-up” campaign let fans trade professions of brand love for free fuel and meals.

Nostalgia has played a major role in recession and post-recession marketing with brands leveraging visions of a simpler past to create emotional connections. By addressing price concerns with the emotional balm of nostalgia, KFC leveraged its history to create camaraderie and build affinity in a still-uncertain economy.

Orangina ‘Shakes Up’ workday for overburdened Croatians

According to this video from Orangina, half of Croatia’s young population is unemployed, and the rest are overburdened with work. To give harried workers some unexpected fun, an Orangina campaign let people order a miscellany of offbeat surprises to be delivered to their offices. These included a magic show delivered by a magician whose trick of seemingly cutting people in two humorously addressed the issue of understaffed businesses. Other eclectic treats included giant pizzas, serenades from a “mini mariachi,” acrobatics shows and kisses from the runner-up world champion of French kissing. The campaign sought to bring Orangina’s “Shake Things Up” tagline to the workplace by providing “more than just moral support.”

As Europe continues to struggle with the economic crisis, brands can strike a chord with consumers by showing support not only for the unemployed but for overtaxed employees. Moreover, with some research showing that Millennials crave surprises in their day, Orangina’s quirky approach to rewards was a novel way to inject some serendipity into consumers’ workdays.

Barclays’ Digital Eagles help the tech-unsavvy go digital

Today’s tech-savvy consumers expect banks to enable myriad ways to manage money digitally. But for those who still shy away from technology, especially older consumers, these increasingly sophisticated offerings fall on deaf ears. In the U.K., Barclays has been attempting to ease the anxieties of the tech-unsavvy with 7,000 employees dubbed Digital Eagles. These tech tutors can help consumers not only with online and mobile banking but any of the tasks that have become routine for many, like making a call via Skype. Consumers meet the Digital Eagles at Tea and Teach sessions held at bank branches.

In a press release, a Barclays exec explains: “We want to take customers and non-customers on a journey to improve their technology capabilities and feel confident to embrace the new digital revolution, so they can reap the benefits of being online. Whether they’re 10 or 110, we don’t want to leave anyone behind.” Barclays positions the service in part as a way to avoid family stress, noting that more than 11 million Britons are “experiencing family arguments because of a lack of digital know-how.” With Barclays pushing its payment app Pingit and a contactless-payment wristband, the company is targeting both early adopters and the other end of the spectrum, showing people how to dip a toe or two into the digital world and why they might want to.

PayPal assures peace of mind on payments

As we’ve noted here, security issues like the Heartbleed bug and data breaches at companies like Target have people increasingly worried about the safety of their personal information. Now a campaign from PayPal aims to alleviate anxiety about making digital payments. In a spot that takes a lighthearted tone, actress Samira Wiley of Orange Is the New Black assures, “With PayPal, your financial information is protected and never shared with stores—like it’s sealed in a vault with titanium locks, guarded by ninjas.” The spot, titled “Buy Some Peace of Mind,” concludes with the line, “Banishing worry one click at a time.”

As more payments go digital and more consumers use their mobile phones and potentially wearable devices to pay for goods, many more businesses are competing with PayPal for a share of this market. Consumers will be weighing the pros and cons of using these new means of payments, and all the middlemen will have to assure potential customers that security will not be an issue.

Oreo uses personalized emojis to connect Chinese families

In China, where long working hours can make it difficult for parents to stay connected with their kids, Oreo harnessed emojis to facilitate more family bonding. Using WeChat, China’s popular messaging platform, the Mondelēz brand allowed users to create emoji characters that incorporated photos of themselves or their kids, as well as celebrities. Users could choose from various templates and actions, including animations. Consumers could also project their emojis onto the screens at Oreo bus shelters and print out stickers of their creations.

The emojis proved a hit—more than 99 million were created over the course of the 11-week campaign. While Oreo appears to be the first marketer to let people emojify themselves, brands including Honda and Singapore’s SingTel have done various clever things with these teeny images as communications become much more visually driven. Given their whimsical appeal across generations, emojis were a smart way for Oreo to expand its positioning as a brand that brings parents and kids together, in this case finding a way to drive a mobile connection for absent parents.

Canadian Boomers feeling pressure as they consider their money’s future

Canadian banks

As Canadian Boomers age, concern is building over the approximately $1 trillion that will be left behind in the country’s largest wealth transference in history. We’re seeing anxieties rise over this wealth transference, as well as conflicting opinions on what Boomers should be doing with their money leading up to and into their retirement. The Bank of Montreal, one of Canada’s top financial institutions, recently released a wealth transference report, predicting that on average each Boomer will bequeath around $100,000. What happens to this money? According to BMO’s study, 79 percent of beneficiaries will use it to reduce debt. Undoubtedly, student debt could be part of that bucket.

Stacked next to Boomers’ wealth transference anxieties, many are wondering: Do I support my kids now and risk my financial future or wait till after I die? A June study by Scotiabank highlights this financial dilemma. “Not surprisingly, Baby Boomer remorse over retirement planning arises as obstacles begin to appear in the path toward the comfortable lifestyles that we all dream of,” says Lisa Ritchie, Scotiabank’s SVP of Customer Knowledge and Insights, in a press release.

With these Boomer concerns making headlines, banks like BMO and Scotiabank are getting ahead of the issue and pointing consumers to the financial counseling and planning they provide—something we’ll see more brands do as this subject gains traction among Boomers.

Photo Credits: Bank of Montreal; Scotiabank

Mikel Coffee proves good brew can percolate in budget-conscious Greece

Mikel Coffee Co.

In Greece, going out for a coffee is a favorite leisure activity, as we’ve previously noted. But the financial crisis has slashed disposable income. Some major coffee chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee have closed branches and, in some cases, left the market altogether. Homegrown brand Mikel Coffee Co., however, has been doing well since it launched in 2008 at the start of the crisis.

Mikel coffee shops are sprouting up like mushrooms, overtaking established local and international players, and soon there will be more than 100 branches in Greece. In 2013, Mikel reported a gross profit of €991,237. The secret to Mikel’s success is catering to a multitude of consumer needs. The prices are competitive, but not low enough to affect quality and brand perception (indeed, Starbucks has been forced to adjust its prices to be able to compete). Consumers also appreciate the generous freebies (small cakes, savory snacks, etc.) that come with the coffee. The stores are open longer than many competitors, with most operating from 5 a.m. till 11 p.m. or midnight. Mikel also offers home delivery, which is proving very popular, particularly for businesses.

The shops answer Greeks’ need to enjoy coffee out of home and socialize like they used to pre-crisis, and let them do so in an affordable way while still catering to the quality expectations Greeks have for their cafés. The chain has become very popular among youth, and the fact that it’s a Greek success story further helps drive brand preference. The moral of the story: When catering to the right needs with the right ingredients, you can succeed even in a crisis environment.

Photo Credit: Mikel Coffee Co.