07/02/2018 | Strategies for brand marketing in constrained markets

Is Government legislation getting in the way of your marketing?

For many brands, the challenge of how to best engage with their target market is constrained by Government legislation that either prevents, or limits, how brand marketing can be executed.

For confectionery brands and other products that are High fat, sugar and/or salt (HFSS), the UK government has looked to prevent obesity by encouraging healthy eating and active behaviour. This is also demonstrated through the industry’s self-regulated restrictions on the advertising of HFSS, not least the restriction on marketing to consumers under 16 years of age.

More recently (since July 2017) further restrictions have been placed on the use of digital HFSS adverts, such as ‘advergaming’ and brands’ own websites. Further restrictions have been added to prevent the use of licensed characters or celebrities that are popular with children and as we would expect, given the significant use of social media for consumer targeting, these restrictions have been extended to include these channels.

This can be particularly frustrating for HFSS brands, who have their hands tied yet want to create engaging campaigns for their consumers. Mentos face this same challenge and we worked with them to create the Mentos Me & You campaign that rewards loyalty by offering the consumer active rewards such as gym classes and Red Letter Days experiences. MRM developed the online platform and sourced a range of rewards designed to get the consumer up and moving and sharing experiences with their friends.

We were asked to pitch for a major infant formula brand, who have to comply with the UK Regulations on Infant and Follow on Formula and on Process Cereal Based foods and Baby foods. Whilst this is somewhat of a mouthful (if you pardon the pun) this legislation prohibits brands from promoting the use of infant formula to replace breastfeeding. Even with follow on milk that can be promoted, the brand must be incredibly careful to not cross-promote infant formula through similar branding or by it not being obvious the product is for older babies.

However, brands are allowed to provide education to their target consumers about the developing baby, the importance of mum having a balanced diet and taking exercise and many brands choose to do this from the time of pregnancy, realising that the choice of brand is fundamentally lifecycle marketing targeted at the mum. As with nappies, once a mum has chosen ‘baby’s brand’ the propensity to remain loyal is far greater than with other products in her weekly shop.

So we come back to the question of what mechanics can be employed by a brand wishing to engage with its consumers? If you’re fortunate to not be in one of these ‘tricky’ markets then the world is at your feet and you can go ‘phygital’ to your hearts content with promotional marketing mechanics to drive trial, reward purchase and target new consumers.

However, if you are working under restrictions, then we advise you to use this positively to either educate the consumer (as with baby clubs, eCRM) or include a twist in your campaign to reward active behaviour as this will be picked up by social media, deepening customer engagement and providing some real added value to encourage your audience to promote you actively amongst their peers. Whatever you decide it is essential to check that your campaign materials comply with the CAP and BCAP codes.

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