Unfortunately no two downturns are exactly alike and therefore in every recession marketers find themselves in un-chartered waters. During recessions, of course, consumers set stricter priorities and will inevitably reduce their spending. And, as sales start to drop, businesses typically cut costs, reduce prices, and postpone new investments.
But as a Harvard Business Report from earlier this year points out, failing to support brands or examine core customers’ changing needs can jeopardise performance over the long term. Companies that put customer needs under the microscope and take a scalpel rather than a cleaver to the marketing budget are more likely than others to flourish both during and after a recession.
‘What is critical for marketeers to understand is the change in required messaging’, writes Bernard Goodman for Media Invest UK. ‘Consumers no longer want flashy campaigns and short term price reductions. Instead, they are more interested than ever in the brand histories and backgrounds of products they chose to buy’. In a recent luxury brand survey conducted across the UK, consumers expressed a greater interest in a brand’s background and history than in current advertising.
This all points to the importance of allocating for the long term. ‘When sales start to decline, companies shouldn’t panic and alter a brand’s fundamental proposition or positioning,’ said Katie Bridgeman of The Brand Archivists in a recent interview focusing on brand opportunities within recession. ‘Rather they need to communicate their core brand identity via the history and stories that created them. It is in this history that consumers find the real brand truths, shown not told, and through these brand stories the consumers can develop a deeper affinity to the brand without the smoke and mirrors..and cost..of yet another marketing campaign.’