Yes, Inflation Matters If You Work In Communications

Creating business strategy plan, generating report. Growth chart

By Emily Smith

For many of us, we are slowly starting to re-enter into the routines we experienced in our pre-pandemic lives. For some people, that means more business and vacation travel, setting the alarm to board the train or bus once again for the office commute, dining out and socializing without the 6-foot buffer between friends and strangers, and heading back to stores to do our shopping.

But (there is always a but) as we begin these routines again, we will be smacked with a harsh new inflation rate. The consumer price index surged 5.4% in June – the highest in more than a decade and a steep incline compared to a year ago when the pandemic kept most of us at home. You may be thinking, “I don’t work on Wall Street or follow the market, big deal.” And, if you count yourself among the younger Millennials or Gen Z,  this may even be your first time even experiencing inflation; the last notable jump was in 2008. We are not economists, but it certainly isn’t just Wall Street buzzing about the recent inflation rates. Rising costs affect all of us as consumers, and, for many people reading this blog, it affects marketers working to promote and educate consumers about their products.

A recent CNBC article simplifies it further: a year ago many of us were too nervous to leave our homes, which meant we weren’t spending money. Now, as the world re-opens, we are making up for lost time and will experience sticker-shock this summer as supply chains scramble to catch up. We can attribute higher prices to the post-pandemic demand for goods and services, which are outpacing the supply.  Where will we see this most? Airfare, hotel fees, cars and gasoline are the biggies, as well as everyday items in the grocery store and on the menu at restaurants and coffee shops.

Why does this matter for marketers?

Even if your client is not car manufacturer or an airline, nearly every consumable good from diapers and dish soap to meat and mocha lattes is impacted, directly or indirectly by inflation rates. There is an opportunity for us as marketers and communication professionals to adjust our strategic plans to better incorporate consumer realities into our strategies.

Take for example, the cost of our morning cup of Joe may be inching higher. In Brazil – the world’s biggest producers of coffee beans – droughts and supply chain issues related to the pandemic are causing prices to skyrocket. We may not see a big difference in pricing in the larger chain coffee shops, but smaller independent cafes who have already been hard hit during the pandemic will likely need to increase their menu pricing to accommodate the cost of beans. A client of Double Forte’s produces the sauces and syrups that help make our morning lattes or afternoon iced drinks taste so good, and local cafes and coffee shops are a major part of their heritage and their business. In fact, one of the main purposes of the company is to help create more opportunities for more people, and so they pivoted quickly and started a fund during the pandemic to help struggling businesses stay afloat.  Inflation often comes with a negative connotation, but it can also provide marketers with a unique opportunity to think about our clients’ goals differently. In the case of this client, there is now a new opportunity to continue to offer support to the local coffee shops and suppliers as the price of beans rise.

So, you see, inflation rates are very relevant for communications teams to consider as we plan and execute programs for our clients. We can leverage the positives of an ever-changing economy to help our clients thrive.