JWT’s AnxietyIndex is designed as a place to discuss how brands and consumers are responding to the global recession. With daily content updates, AnxietyIndex.com includes contributions from around JWT’s network, offering a truly global perspective.
The recession may be long over, but consumers remain anxious about their expenses and savvy about finding the lowest prices. Catering to this mindset, the insurance provider Esurance is now offering an online tool, Fuelcaster, that predicts whether local gas prices will go up or down in the next 24 hours—users input a ZIP code and see a “buy” or “wait” recommendation (much as Kayak does with plane fares), along with the current prices at nearby gas stations. The company says Fuelcaster relies on “a proprietary algorithm that incorporates pricing signals from industry sources” and claims it’s the first such tool in the U.S. to predict gas prices.
In providing drivers with a free service that’s unrelated to the company’s core business of insurance but fits with its positioning as a value choice for digitally savvy consumers, Esurance illustrates how to put the consumer at the core of marketing initiatives. More brands are starting to focus on winning loyalty and engagement by using technology to address real consumer needs rather than taking a just-because-we-can approach to tech, which may briefly intrigue consumers but rarely creates real affinity.
Petrol prices have spiked as much as 38 percent over the last five years in the U.K. and continue to rise, adding one more headache to the deck of everyday concerns among British consumers, who are also grappling with rising food and rent costs. U.K. grocery chain Morrisons recently introduced the Fuel Saver program, offering discounts on the retailer’s petrol. Unlike other fuel schemes, it doesn’t require the participant to shop at Morrisons, only to buy gift cards from the chain for any of 34 participating retailers, including Toys R Us, Homebase and Boots. Consumers get 1p off each liter of fuel for every £10 worth of gift voucher. “We know that the cost of filling the family car is a real worry for our families but using Fuel Saver for purchases can lead to very large savings,” said Morrisons commercial director Richard Hodgson in a press release.
We’ve seen similar save-on-fuel schemes in the U.S. as well, from retailers including Walmart and Kroger. With many people still struggling financially even as the cost of everyday living rises, brands have opportunities to both help consumers get by on shoestring budgets while also retaining their business.