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A Complicated Economy: Three Ways A Marketer Can Connect with Today’s Conflicted Consumer.

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

How to simplify without losing your brand voice.

In an era characterized by economic paradoxes, making sense of the current landscape and understanding how and where to best position your business can be daunting. Wages are on the rise, but inflation is outpacing earnings. Unemployment rates are low, yet more people are having to work a side hustle than in the past. Disposable income is increasing once again, but so is household debt. And while discretionary spending has shown some signs of rebounding, spending as a whole is down compared to years prior. It’s all true, and it’s all confusing.

When talking about economic implications, there is never a singular truth. Two people living in Canada can experience the exact same economic climate but be faced with entirely different outcomes. This past year, the bottom 40% of earners had their net savings shrink while top earners had their savings grow. Brands looking to connect with today’s conflicted consumers will need to bring simplicity to this complex environment by focusing on value, flexibility, and their unique brand narrative.

Here are three considerations for the marketer looking to break through in this complicated economy:

1. Go back to basics.

In an uncertain economy, brands that can offer stability and consistency will win. Messaging should continue to focus on the unique solutions your business or product provides versus responding to the economy of the moment. Get back to basics with offers that reassure consumers and offer greater peace–of–mind, whether through extended warranties, enhanced customer service, or price stability. Reducing advertising budgets isn’t helpful, so don’t pull back on investments and leverage whatever tools you can to make your product fit the practical and emotional criteria you’re aiming for. For example, Away Luggage is positioned as the smart and simple solution to luggage. They offer a lifetime warranty that makes their product an easy choice for people concerned about their financial futures.

2. Get flexible with payments.

Dynamic pricing strategies and flexible payment systems can make your product or service financially accessible to your target group without changing the product itself. Dynamic pricing is popularizing, most notably in the restaurant industry, as a way to maintain fair margins. Many retailers are offering flexible payment plans such as Square’s Afterpay to help make costs easier to handle. In fact, some brands are using price flexibility as a unique selling point and differentiator. For example, Telfar’s latest handbag release will involve a pricing experiment - launching the bag at 50% off before increasing the price every minute after release. “You decide the price: the more you want it — the lower the price,” said the brand, garnering much attention in the industry.

3. Drop the recession narrative.

Canadians are inundated with economic messaging right now. While it is essential to recognize our current realities, anchoring your messaging in the moment’s anxieties with “Sadvertising” can be off-putting and fear-inducing to consumers. Instead, messaging should remain relevant to your unique audience and their needs and truths. Take IKEA’s most recent campaign, for example. They’ve humbly embraced their position as the second-best option in a timely ad that celebrates caregivers on Mother’s Day. The messaging has a unique twist on typical brand perspectives, showcases its value, and remains relevant without dwelling on the current economy.

Canada's economy in 2023 can feel contradictory, but brands that are able to focus on quality products with value-driven messaging will break-through. Despite what the headlines are saying, there is still an immense amount of opportunity if you don't get distracted by the headlines.

This post is part 3 of a 5-part series, bringing to life our STEEP framework for 2023. The framework presents macro trends that span Socio-Demographic, Technology, Environment, Economy, and Politics to account for each letter in our STEEP acronym. Within this series, we will explore how each one of these macro trends trickle down into our daily lives and provide the modern marketer with cues to help them navigate this evolving reality. Read Part 1: Navigating Canada’s Influx of Retirees. and Part 2: Rebelling Against Technology.

We make it our business to stay on top of the trends that impact your business. Through our proprietary Disruption Audit and Trends Analyses services, we help decode what is happening in our world to give you a more fulsome view of the future and chart a clear path forward with actionable business strategies. Learn more or email us at


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