European consumer confidence has collapsed. It has now fallen below the level recorded during the pandemic (-24.7 points in April 2020) and well below the level during the 2009 crisis (-21.1 points).
In August 2022, the consumer confidence index reached -26 points, below the level reached during the pandemic and below the level reached in the 2009 crisis.
Poor use of communication between brand and consumer exposes companies to crisis. Only 18% of Romanian companies use social media to engage with their customers and only 51% of Romanian businesses employing more than ten people have a web page, compared to a European average of 80%.
According to European Commission data consulted by Lighthouse, economic sentiment also continued to decline in August, to 96.5 points, compared to the 100-point basic indicator. In the context of a decreasing optimism of consumers, Romanian companies are becoming even more exposed to the crisis, because they do not establish channels of effective communication with customers.
“When budgets are reduced it can understandably have a significant impact on the PR, Marketing and Business Development operational capability. This is when your communication strategies and tactics need to be more effective than ever, as productivity and ROI principles will certainly need much closer attention. But it seems that Romanian companies still have an odd reluctance to explore more efficient and effective ways to promote themselves and engage with customers, and this makes them more vulnerable when consumption decreases,” explains Ana Maria Gardiner, managing partner at Lighthouse Romania.
According to the official data consulted by Lighthouse, in 2021, 78% of the Romanian companies with over 250 employees had a website, compared to a European average of 94%. As for SMEs, those that represent most of the local business environment, only 50% had a website, compared to a European average of almost 80%.
“A website, pr, blogs and newsletters are basic tools that allow a direct and effective relationship with the user, all of which can be created with minimal budget. Businesses that want to retain and acquire customers cannot afford to ignore these communication channels,” says in his turn Steve Gardiner, partner at Lighthouse Romania.
Only 6% of Romanian companies have an active blog, whilst almost 30% use social media to promote their image yet do not deploy any form of professional customer engagement initiatives. Only 12% of the companies with a website offer a chat function, but mainly for robotic FAQs. There remains much to be learned about how to communicate and engage with prospective customers across the business market in Romania.