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Connecting with Shoppers Post-Brexit: Is Celebrating Britishness the Way Forward?

In times of economic uncertainty, what we prize becomes more obvious in our spending behaviour. Yes, there's some rational sacrifices and choices that we'll be making, such as cutting back expenditure on eating out, or opting for staycations while the pound is falling through the floor. But our sense of needing to look after our own and take care of those around us becomes increasingly prominent. It's manifesting itself in many ways, beyond the behaviour of shoppers: Just look at the earlier decisions by Tesco to de-list the hallowed likes of Marmite from its shelves, rather than accept a price hike from Unilever at the time (even if the price has quietly crept up since). Tesco knew their (very public and PR-friendly) decision was well in tune with their shoppers' sentiment of looking after their own and that they'd reap the positive perception benefits as a result. In a similar vein, Co-op have recently announced a commitment to sourcing 100% of their own-brand fresh meat from within the UK and likely expect to drive similar positive sentiment (and sales, of course).



Photo credit: Reuters


As for the shoppers, the looming economic uncertainty of Brexit is most certainly sparking a greater desire to buy British, when it comes to our food and drink. In fact, almost one quarter of consumers say they'll be more likely to buy British food now because they want to support the local economy. This fervour is even stronger when it comes to supporting domestic farmers, with three-quarters of us choosing to buy British produce*. Yet this enthusiasm only goes so far, bound by the constraints of price. One-third of us would opt for foreign products if the cost of British food increased by 10%, rising to two-thirds of us if the cost increased by 25%*. Shoppers are also wary of brands that try to leverage this heart for Britishness without the substance: Tesco faced backlash and claims of intent to mislead for utilising "British-sounding farm names" for its Farms brands, when the produce was sourced from a variety of local and international suppliers.  



What that tells us is that simply shouting "British-made" or "British-grown" is not enough to convert a shopper in grocery. For British brands, Britishness should be an integral part of your DNA, but it shouldn’t be the be all and end all. On its own, being British is just not distinct enough. You still need other complementary reasons to believe, to convince shoppers as to why they should choose you and not one of the myriad of perfectly viable alternative brands. Go after the heartstrings and strike a passion point that's dear to the hearts of your target shoppers. Live up to your claims and deliver (hey, over-deliver) what you say on the tin. Deliver true value for the shopper; whether that be quality value, value for money or even personal-image value. Underpin all this with the reassurance that, by choosing you, the shopper will be supporting British-made and you'll be onto a winner in the post-Brexit era.   



*YouGov, 2017