With much of the world's economy in the grip of the worst financial crisis for decades, here's a round-up of thinking on how the marketing community can respond. An exclusive bibliography of sources on 'coming out on top' is also available, see details below
Finding the silver lining
"Brands continue to have value in turbulent times. They can lose value if there is not sufficient marketing investment in them, but can also gain under the right circumstances, and with the correct understanding of the opportunities open to them." That is the key message summed up by the authors of Key Lessons for Marketing in a Recession, a new special report recently commissioned by WPP from The Futures Company, designed to guide thinking throughout WPP's agencies on how to help a client's business and inform their marketing strategy. In addition, the study presents an extensive bibliography of sources on the topic of marketing in a recession.
The study is based on assimilation of some 150 articles, books, reports and case studies on marketing and business practice in a recession, from all over the world, and including references and examples from as far back as the 1920s.
The 12 key points are summarised:
Recessions: the 'facts'
Recessions are uncertain and unpredictable, what we do know is that: they happen; they're short (usually); they are inequitable; and no two are the same.
Consumers' values are up in the air
In hard times, consumers are forced to re-evaluate how they consume, providing opportunities and challenges as loyalties change.
Recessions are uncertain times for consumers; brands can build trust by showing sympathy and engaging emotionally with consumers.
All brands can provide value
Value for money is especially important during a recession; 'value' brands as well as premium brands can provide value.
A caveat: spending more is in itself no guarantee of success
There is a frequently expressed view that increasing spending on advertising during a recession causes a company to be more successful afterwards. This simplistic view should be approached with caution.
Maintain brand equity
Companies must continue to exploit and nurture to the best of their abilities the brands that they have.
Response 1: Exploit
If you are in a position to do so, there may be considerable opportunity to exploit versus competitors during a recession.
Response 2: Hold firm
Holding firm to your brand strategy can pay significant dividends in terms of long-term shareholder value.
Response 3: Shape up
In recessionary times it is more crucial than ever to ensure that operations and marketing are effectively streamlined and optimised.
Opportunities in the new media landscape
This recession is unprecedented in occurring at a time when the penetration of the internet worldwide is high, creating new challenges and opportunities.
A ripe time for innovation
Recessionary periods are rich in innovations. Consumers are willing to adopt new products, and companies are forced to innovate to survive.
Heed your own words...
Agencies would do well to heed their own advice, by protecting their own assets, and by partnering with their clients over the long-term.
The report's authors are Will Galgey, Alastair Morton, Andy Stubbings and Tom Ding.