David Halter

Chief Strategy and Growth Officer, dentsu ANZ

Tomorrow is Tuesday.

Tuesdays have always struggled to find their place – they’re neither here nor there in the hierarchy of the week. From memory, in his song 7 Days from the early noughties, Craig David sang “took her for a drink on Tuesday”. Good on you, Craig.

But in today’s post-pandemic, inflation-powered, fuel-excise-free world, Tuesdays have found new meaning. And not everyone is doing what Craig David was doing.

When an inevitable interest rate bump is announced, many Aussies start doing rough maths in their head to try and calculate what it will mean for their home finances.

The important question for marketers is, are you using this moment to calculate what the changes in the economy will mean for your brand and tactics?

In late July, Treasurer Jim Chalmers had some sobering words for all of us.

“Australians’ standard of living will not return to the peaks reached in 2020 at any stage over the next four years and households’ purchasing power will fall to a 12-year low this financial year.”

As this plays out, marketers and their agency partners must continue to understand how the whole nation is feeling and intending to behave. Falling purchasing power is quickly changing behaviour and attitudes towards the products and services people buy every day.

Which brands will win? In my view, it’s the ones that read the room and then adapt their tactics accordingly.

Taking the time to understand people and their reality is important, as not every Australian is sitting at the same table.

We ran some research last month by interviewing 2042 Australians and despite what the negative news cycle would let you believe, there are very different groups of people out there.

There are plenty of people who are wealthy and cashed up. Interest rate rises and inflation doesn’t mean that much to them, so life goes on. Look at all the people filling the restaurants and the business-class cabins. If you’re a marketer, these people are where you can hold margin, so it should be a case of “protect at all costs and steal share where you can”.

But then there are the groups of Australians on tighter budgets. Tuesdays now might mean making some tough calls on purchases for the months ahead. Some people are doing it really tough. They’re feeling the weight of their house on their shoulders, and spending needs to change.

For marketers, our research suggests these groups are full of people who will ditch their preferred brand at any given moment, even if they have been a loyal customer their entire life. In this world, brand loyalty becomes less important, as financial prioritisation is the name of the game.

This changing nature of Australian’s financial position is where marketers must face reality and read the room. And rather than pulling back spend as other members of the C-suite might suggest, those who face reality, and then act fast by strengthening their brand and value proposition to meet real needs, will win.

These conditions are all a huge growth opportunity too. As motor racing legend Ayrton Senna once said, “you cannot overtake 15 cars in sunny weather, but you can when it’s raining.”

We have seen the supermarkets come out of the blocks quickly on this, with Woolworths leading the way with highly promoted price freezes covering the market. Another “good different” retailer is bundling products from across the store to entice a more affluent buyer to trade down. Other sectors must quickly follow or be left showing up tone deaf and missing the chance.

So, on “RBA Tuesday Eve”, perhaps it’s time to ask some big questions of your strategy and tactics. Think about where your product or service sits as Australians start prioritising their home finances. Is your value proposition right for your target? Is there an opportunity for you to reframe, reposition or repromote to align with real needs?

In my opinion, these are the questions we all need to be having tomorrow. Because if you want to “chill on Sunday” like Craig David, it might be time to act now.

David Halter is chief strategy and growth officer at dentsu ANZ

This article originally appeared in The Australian.