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How UK Brands Can Unlock Post-Lockdown Spend in 2021

After four months of near-continuous national lockdown due to COVID-19 , there is finally some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel in the United Kingdom (UK) as restrictions are gradually eased, and large portions of the general population are vaccinated each day.

We’ve come out of lockdowns before. But this time, there is a general feeling is that we’re nearing the beginning of the end. Or if not that, then at least, perhaps, the end of the beginning. If that is indeed the case, what does this mean for brands and the consumer experience post-pandemic?

According to a report by the Office of National Statistics, the ratio of household savings as a proportion of household disposable income rose from 9.6% in Q1 2019 to 29.1% in Q2 2020.

2020 and 2021 saw several record or near-record months for UK household savings growth: for example, in May 2020 alone, £26 billion was deposited. The total amount estimated to have been accumulated in savings accounts in 2020 is over £160 billion.

Of course, not everyone has benefited financially from the pandemic: many people were furloughed or laid off and saw their savings depleted, and those with lower incomes were disproportionately affected.

This is why it’s imperative that brands are considerate and respectful with their advertising messages. In a presentation at MAD//Anywhere in March, I referenced a study by Kantar, which asked consumers what advertising should look like in light of the pandemic.

Overwhelmingly, consumers felt that advertisers should show how they can be helpful in the now everyday life (78%); and inform about their efforts to face the situation (75%). Conversely, consumers felt that advertisers should not exploit coronavirus to promote their brand (74%).

Assuming that advertisers get that right and can communicate their brand messaging in a helpful, informative, and trustworthy way, there is an incredible opportunity opening up for brands to capture some of the spend that has been locked up in savings for the past 12 months.

So which verticals will prosper in this new dawn for brands?

The answer is largely obvious: those verticals that enable us to do the things we’ve all been missing. Eating and drinking with friends, travelling, going to the cinema, and other in-person experiences.

We’d all love a new car. And, of course, it’s also an excellent time to retake control of our personal finances and plan for a (COVID-free!) future.

The key to using advertising to effectively capture spend in these categories lies in speaking directly to people’s current situations and demonstrating how your brand can be helpful or timely in light of them.

At Taboola, we have access to an enormous amount of readership data from over 9,000 publisher partners and 56 billion monthly pageviews across our network. This data allows us to isolate trending topics that consumers are reading about, which helps give insight into their current experiences.

For example, over the past 30 days, articles featuring the keywords ‘bank’ and ‘money’ have been trending, driving 329K pageviews in that time.

Examples of popular articles on this topic from our network include headlines like ‘If you’ve developed bad money habits over lockdown, here’s how to tackle them‘ and ‘Is my money safe in the bank’?

This trend suggests that as some consumers have found themselves with extra padding in their savings accounts, and others struggle to make ends meet, all are looking for support managing their finances.

This shift presents an opportunity for finance brands to step up to the plate and help consumers invest their savings, get out of debt, or simply make sure their money is safe.

As stay-at-home orders are lifted and travel slowly re-emerges, holiday providers can offer COVID-friendly packages with built-in flexibility and comprehensive insurance protection, giving travelers added security, in the hopes that they won’t need it.

Auto brands can speak to the huge wave of new drivers waiting weeks or months for driving exam dates in anticipation that they’ll be purchasing their first car this year.

Movie releases are backed up, with over a year’s worth of delayed and completed movies lined up to hit our screens and make up for lost time and money; while food, beverage, and grocery brands seek to win market share more fiercely than ever before.

While some well-known and well-loved brands have sadly gone to the wall, others have fully embraced digital in a transformation unlike any we have seen before. The battle to save the high street is real.

Still, successful brands have innovated and diversified their shopping experience over the past year, looking forward to a future that will likely be more heavily based in e-commerce than might have been predicted pre-pandemic.

Brands can harness a new, more considerate, and topically relevant approach to engaging with their customers, ensuring that their message is meaningful and rewarding.

These brands can make up for lost time and take advantage of the dawn of a new age for brands in the UK. Here’s hoping that the next few months are a signpost to better times and lead us to more prosperity and positivity for us all.

Learn how your brand can advertise in impactful and trustworthy placements across top publisher sites in the UK and the world with Taboola’s High Impact offering – get in touch with our Advertiser Team today.

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