This is the context in which field marketing agencies and many of their clients are going to have to operate for some time to come. It's tough, but we have to live with it; we have to adapt and we have to innovate.
Consumers now have far more choice of product, as well as purchase channels, and are more promiscuous. They are better informed, more intelligent and less susceptible to marketing messages. They will spend their money, but want to reduce their outlay on everyday items so that they can afford to spend more on themselves and on luxury items - just look at sales of champagne in recent years.
This is all fantastic news for field marketing businesses because one-to-one communication is becoming more important and effective in 'getting the message across'. After all, the field marketing industry in the UK has more one-to-one dialogues with consumers every week than any other marketing services discipline.
At CPM, we are trying hard to innovate and develop our product offering to clients to help them capitalise on one-to-one consumer interactions. Our clients now take it for granted that using us will give them a deep understanding of their return on investment.
But having great people and technology is no longer enough. In light of this, CPM is now making investments in people and businesses that allow us to understand how consumers shop and how they use the various purchase channels available to them. Through these channel and behavioural insights, we are able to shape how our clients offer their products to consumers in terms of place and time, and in so doing, maximise their sales-force effectiveness.
This insight enables us to use a range of contact methodologies to speak directly to consumers - face to face, on the telephone, via the web and through the letterbox. Importantly, we are therefore able to stimulate and maintain a two-way dialogue on an ongoing basis.
These are really exciting times for CPM and for the field marketing industry as a whole. The work we do is in vogue; leaders in our clients' businesses and the chief executives of the major agency groups talk regularly about retail activation and differentiation at the point of purchase. But to capitalise on these opportunities, we need to innovate within our businesses, or else we will be destined to a downward spiral of low growth and margin decline.
Mike Hughes is managing director of CPM United Kingdom (pictured, above right). For further information, call Mike Hughes on 01844 261 777, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.uk.cpm-int.com.