News & Thinking

MRS Social Inclusion: The Cost of Living Crisis

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Black and white image of a UK high street News 10 Oct

As part of the launch festival for the MRS Social Inclusion Group, MTM’s Emma Eaton recently viewed a panel discussion about the cost of living crisis and where market research can help uncover how people are feeling. Here are the key takeouts…

The convergence of soaring inflation and energy prices, low wage growth, and global supply chain issues will continue to impact many of us, particularly working class individuals. Here are some ways in which the panellists feel the crisis will manifest (and in many cases, already is manifesting…):

  • Work pressures – fear of being fired, but also fear of moving into a new role at the prospect of being made redundant
  • Multiple jobs – not in the Instagram version of the world where people are “side hustling” to get rich, but multiple jobs simply to get by
  • A reduction in purchases of expensive, fresh produce such as fruit and fish
  • The food bank becoming a new necessity for many
  • A greater shift to own-label brands
  • Feeling a lack of control and agency
  • Guilt of saying no to kids and friends – no to seeing them, no to activities, clothing, school trips or holidays

Marry these pressures with the perception that in the UK there is less collectivism than during previous economic crises, and a trust void (towards both the media and the government), and it results in a short supply of hope for ordinary working people.

The panel felt that market research could help during the cost of living crisis in a few ways:

  • Understanding how the harder to reach ‘D and E’ audience (from ‘C2DE’s) are feeling, as this group are often under-represented on panels and in focus groups
  • Approaching research with both empathy and curiosity – don’t treat research in a cold or detached way
  • But also don’t imagine yourselves experts in the crisis or someone else’s challenges just because you’ve spent a few hours in conversation

There was a slight division among the panel about the role that brands should play at this time. Some felt that it was not the place for brands to mention the ‘cost of living’ crisis at all publicly, as they should not be profiting from consumers’ pain. Others felt that brands can think of – and then publicise – strategies and solutions that add value for a customer. But all agreed: don’t patronise, and don’t look to profit, just try to help.

On Wednesday 19th October 2022, MTM will host a webinar exploring the theme of “Feeling the pinch: how to keep your customers engaged during the cost of living crisis”.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to

As MTM’s expertise is in media and tech, we will be looking at the cost of living through the lens of streaming services: from the need to introduce advertiser-funded subscription models, increased customer churn, to long-term engagement and loyalty. We will be sharing new data on how much value-for-money, content, UX really matter in aiding retention, improving engagement and customer experience.

Emma Eaton
10th October 2022