Inflation and brand communication

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The surging inflation and high cost of living are issues grabbing the headlines. It is surely affecting the common man. How can brands respond? After all, when a consumer needs to be even more cautious with expenses, it has repercussions on the brand. What are seen as an extravagant purchases are likely to be curtailed. Brands that are seen to increase expenses, are likely to suffer.

In this context, Maruti Suzuki has released an advert, reassuring consumers that they made the right choice with Maruti 800. The commercial is corny as hell and an absolute embarrassment. But the idea is right. And then there was this ICICI Direct commercial asking consumers to set aside money at the end of every month for investments, instead of splurging (buying a new saree or eating out in a fancy restaurant). Mighty preachy and excruciatingly boring but done with a purpose – such messages are likely to find a receptive audience now more than ever.


Is your favourite brand likely to suffer from inflationary pressures? Which categories and brands are likely to get affected? How do other brands approach such an issue? Points to ponder. Categories that are not seen as ‘essential’ may likely to postponed for purchase. They can reassure current customers and create dissonance about other brands, like Maruti did. Or take an educational stance like ICICI. In the US too, Madison Avenue is reflecting the sentiments of consumers during these ‘hard times’. Southwest Airlines is attacking the fees their rivals charge for every little thing. Cult brands can take an approach like Harley Davidson, which justifies the premium: ‘freedom and wind outlast hard times.’

Surprisingly, the weekend papers are still full of ads featuring deals on consumer durables. Unless a brand has a strong loyalty, bordering on habit, every brand is likely to face scrutiny. All the more reason for providing a clear brand differentiator. 

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