Cannes Festival: Consumers Crave Value, Not Just Deals

PR professionals know that strong relationships take time to develop. The relations aspect of public relations is more important today than ever.

Budget-minded consumers have adopted a more deliberative and disciplined attitude toward their purchases. Self-imposed austerity measures are the new normal. Today, the very idea of impulse buying feels like a quaint but incredulous cultural phenomenon that lasted about as long as Carrie Bradshaw exorcised her emotional states through purchases of Manolo Blahniks. Most women don’t shop like that anymore. Neither do men. We can’t afford to. Consumers no longer make decisions based on what they want, but on what they need. It’s the PR industry’s job to cultivate that bond between brands and consumer needs.

The PR industry folks attending the Cannes ad festival in France have embraced a single word that continues to redefine how consumers perceive brands: value. Frugal consumers define value by necessity. A $75 savings on snow tires poses little value to the residents of Key West.  This doesn’t mean it isn’t a good deal; it’s just a deal that offers little value to this segment of consumers.

This simple dynamic is playing out across the globe on more complex levels and circumstances. Ultimately, consumers invest their money in brands that understand their needs; PR-savvy brands take the time to identify these consumer needs and build relationships on them. Relationships are built on knowledge, not deals.

Slashing prices will continue to be an important part of marketing. And making consumers laugh is helpful. (We posted a few tips this morning to help with that.) However, those promotional devices used to gain our attention will never be as critical as the values that hold our attention. As awards are handed out in Cannes to the most trailblazing people and ideas in our industry, it’s important to remember the big picture.