Social & Digital Marketing in 2022: 3 Tips to Fight The Jump at the Pump
Recent global events have once again triggered increased fuel prices at the pump. While price volatility is nothing new, these recent changes are truly unprecedented. They arrive at a time when other significant variables like recovery from a global pandemic, record job quits and rampant inflation have already affected consumer behavior.
As of early March 2022, gas prices have increased to 62 cents more than a month ago and $1.30 more than a year ago. This brings the national average above the previous high of $4.11 per gallon of regular gas set in 2008. Unlike some previous price spikes, experts predict this one will continue for the foreseeable future.
Marketers should keep a close eye on this rapidly changing landscape and make necessary adjustments to their social and digital marketing strategies if they hope to retain regular customers and earn new ones. If there is a bright side to skyrocketing gas prices, it is that research can help us understand how consumers react to them.
Some types of out-of-home advertising may need adjustment.
Contrary to popular belief, consumers do not drive more when gas is cheap. In January of 2019 when gas prices were $0.30 lower than the previous year, most consumers who said their driving habits had changed reported that they were driving a little less.
Prior to the pandemic, 41 percent of Americans said they were actually driving more. This was overwhelmingly attributed to job obligations. However, with the recent changes in the way people work, that statistic has likely changed. Marketers should now consider which channels are really effective in reaching their target audiences. As more employers offer hybrid or complete work-from-home options, the price of gas could prompt employees to come into the office fewer days each week.
Digital display ads may be a better way to reach consumers who leave the house less often and see fewer billboards on the way to and from work. Especially as the pandemic eases, some commuters may choose public transportation as a cheaper alternative to burning fuel during their daily merging madness. Savvy marketers should consider making the most of their out-of-home ads by connecting these audiences to their digital channels with QR codes.
Look for more promotional offers in digital and social marketing campaigns.
As one might expect, there are studies that indicate an increase in gas prices reduces shopping frequency, purchase volume and dollar spending. However, consumers generally preserve their preference for quality brands. Higher gas prices tend to convert many into coupon clippers, as they scramble to make up the deficit with some of their regular, non-fuel purchases.
For digital marketing campaigns and social channels, special promotions on popular products or services are easily tracked for performance while offering an opportunity to expand audiences. But while promotions are an effective retention tool, discounts should not be so deep that they affect perceived quality. Care should also be taken not to over-emphasize private labels.
Restaurants may get more aggressive on social.
There is something very American about searching for and sharing information on cheap gas. The practice is so prevalent that there is even a healthy competition among apps dedicated to this never-ending quest. While consumers tend to overreact to save a few dollars at the pump, the reality is there is not a whole lot they can do to save big money on gas purchase margins.
For the most part, research indicates consumers this penny pinching does not spill over into other purchases. For example, when gas is more expensive drivers don’t necessarily compensate by purchasing less bread or eggs. However, there is some indication that households move expenditures from restaurants to grocery purchases to make up for the loss at the pump.
If the fear is that workers will not head out to lunch as often to preserve their fuel, restaurants may counter with more special offers for office delivery. In fact, with their increased popularity during this current gas spike, the proximity marketing features in those gas apps are a smart and efficient way to reach drivers who might be most inclined to swing by for a meal pickup.
Unfortunately, high gas prices are here to stay for the time being. As consumers look for ways to adjust, marketing communicators need to do their research and constantly adjust their strategies if they hope to keep their messages in front of consumers. Brandware can help you navigate the complex landscape of digital ads, apps and social channels available to your business. Contact us for a free consultation.