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Consumer tech PR:  weathering the ongoing cost-of-living crisis

Posted by Megan Hill on 25th July 2023

When it comes to your personal spending, would you choose to rein back your streaming subscriptions over cutting your consumer tech purchases? How about reducing the amount you spend on alcohol, clothes, or even furniture?

If you prefer to prioritise your gadgets over the above, then you are not alone.

A new study from TechRadar found that while the cost-of-living crisis is having an impact on subscriptions and other purchases, spending on consumer tech appears to be weathering the storm.

Tech gadgets prioritised above alcohol, streaming and even furniture

In fact, according to TechRadar, half of those surveyed (50%) said they were at least planning to or will cut back on entertainment subscriptions such as Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Disney in order to save money. Two in ten (21%) were thinking about reducing their tech purchases to achieve the same goal.

Socialising also lost the battle against tech spending, with nearly half (43.5%) of those surveyed having already cut back or considering to do so in the future.

Even furniture took a hit, with technology purchases being prioritised higher (41% versus 40%) when looking at how likely respondents were to reduce spending across different retail categories.

What does this mean for consumer tech PR?

While this is great news for consumer tech companies, there are nuances to the findings that need to be considered when it comes to PR. Because even though tech spending is going strong, the way people shop is continuing to evolve.

The research revealed that eight in 10 people (80%) will spend more time researching the right thing to buy in future. This supports the findings of Retail Economics and FreedomPay, which found that shoppers spend 35 minutes extra per week searching for the best deals and browsing non-food products, compared to the last year.

In short…

Reviews are king

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “We know this, Megan. We all read your wonderful blog at the end of last year about the impact reviews have on the success of consumer tech PR campaigns. We get it.”

Well, yes, loyal fan. That blog is all still true. It is well documented that consumers (66% in fact) consult reviews before making a purchase, with 88% stating that product reviews are the most important factor in deciding to purchase.

But while reviews remain a crucial element to consumer campaigns, what those reviews focus on is more important than ever — especially with the cost-of-living crisis still raging on. In this context, price and value for money could be key areas to consider placing more emphasis on.

Making messaging work for you

From my experience, most consumer tech messaging focuses on features — how much better X is than Y, the improvements made to Z, or the new shiny thing that’s never been done before.

All of these messages are valid and important to get across to the consumer. But when they are researching with cost in mind, it doesn’t hurt to focus some messaging towards that element as well.

Of course, we have to consider that, by their nature, reviews are organic. And the reviewer will make their own judgement based on the features, price and, ultimately, the value for money. In that regard, our impact as PRs is admittedly limited.

But, when drafting a new press release, or sharing key features with a reviewer, is there any harm in mentioning the fantastic price point? No, there isn’t.

Now, all this isn’t to say that cheaper products have an advantage. On the contrary, people are looking for the best value for money, not just the cheapest.

The research revealed that, when looking at smartphone purchases, over half of respondents (54%) said that the contract doesn’t have to be the cheapest but must be good value for money. Only 23% of consumers said they want the cheapest contract, no matter what.

Dealing with it head on

Another more direct way that PRs can help get across price-driven messaging is to take advantage of key sales times and deals.

Most national titles and tier one consumer tech publications will have a deals editor.  Connecting with them ahead of Prime Day, Black Friday, January sales etc., is a great way to share the latest deals, many of which internal marketing teams will arrange as standard but perhaps not consider PR-worthy.

Ultimately, with the cost-of-living crisis showing no signs of abating, PRs need to view it as more than just a news hook but something to consider with each campaign.

Because while the impact of PR is often difficult to quantify, we can certainly measure how well key messages are being picked up. And with consumers increasingly focussing on value for money, it’s imperative that this message is promoted to the best of our ability.

Megan Hill