Why PR can help brands react to changes in consumer demand

PR is important in helping brands adapt and react to changes in consumer demand in two key ways; firstly, keeping a finger on the pulse of the competitive landscape, consumer sentiment and trends, and secondly for sharing how a business is reacting and adapting to changes in the market. The dialogue between brands and customers has never been more important: it’s fast-paced, no-holds-barred and gives businesses the agility to share their future plans for future products and services even if they haven’t quite hit the market yet.

Use the media

The media can be harnessed as one of the most powerful channels through which to communicate values and views – especially when you are advocating for large-scale action or consumer mindset change. Communicating effectively with you customer base is crucial and the huge increase in media and content consumption over the past 12 months means there is plenty of opportunity for businesses and brands to make their views known.

Be careful on social

Consumers want to feel that the brands are listening to their needs, from both a product and ethical perspective – McDonald’s attributed consumers to its 2018 switch to paper straws for instance, but recently we’ve seen how this can go wrong, with Burger King’s ill-judged ‘women in the kitchen’ tweet amid the online positivity surrounding International Women’s Day. Beauty brands have been interesting recent examples too: releasing tips, tutorials and product overviews focused on skincare and low-maintenance eye makeup in response to people going out less, having time at home to pamper and constantly watching themselves on video calls.

Stay on trend

The past year has also accelerated many digitisation, ecommerce and sustainability trends that will be here to stay to varying degrees for many sectors, and brands who have invested in these offering need to keep it at the fore of the media agenda.

PR is a crucial tool for brands that want to rebound stronger and with a mindset more purposeful than profit. It’s especially important for businesses having to pivot their operations at either a product or organisational level: if people don’t understand the context and your aims, you’re less likely to have a supportive customers base that can make your vision a reality.

Act quickly

Agility and speed when it comes to product development and supply chains is not always easily achieved, but PR can be a route to a fast response.

Timely, well-targeted communications – be it through press or social media – can help businesses become the preferred choice for consumers who are voicing their environmental, ethical and price concerns louder than ever before. Reassuring, visionary and empathetic communicators will capitalise on consumer purchasing trends – winning trust by demonstrating their willingness to listen and react to consumer trends, even if they are still in the process of developing or pivoting what they were doing before the pandemic hit.

External communications is a two-way street, and businesses should view their PR departments as central to this insight gathering and sharing, maximising brand loyalty and fuelling research and development as well as innovation.

Written by Mimi Brown, head of entrepreneurs and business at PR agency The PHA Group