The opportunities for marketing in a downturn

Last week, I read the post on BrandFreak.com about how a downturn can be an exciting time for ‘run of the mill’ brands.  I absolutely have to agree.  A little while ago, I worked on the SpaghettiOs brand at Campbell Soup, and at the time, I would have loved to have been able to market that brand during a downturn in the economy.  Don’t get me wrong, marketing any kind of brand during a downturn is scary and challenging, but it also changes your consumer’s mindset.  A product that hasn’t changed for 50 years, but that consistently provides a relevant benefit at a very affordable price point suddenly becomes a whole lot more interesting and desirable to consumers — as long as you remind them of how you fit into their lives and meet their current needs. 

To take the BrandFreak post a step further, I would argue that it is also an exciting time to be managing a ‘premium’ brand or one that might be considered more than ‘run of the mill’.  Undoubtedly, brand managers of this type of brand are feeling a little uncomfortable right now, but there is an opportunity to continue to develop your brand in this tough time — as long as you are making sure that your emphasis is on the value that you are providing your consumers.

My message to both types of brand managers is this:  this is an exciting time to be marketing your brand because it will encourage you to help your consumers change the way they might have traditionally viewed you.  You have the opportunity to successfully market your brand in this economic climate, if you demonstrate your value and relevancy to your consumer.

For ‘Run of the Mill’ Brands

How are you using this downturn to your advantage? 

  • Are you reminding your consumers about how useful and relevant you are? 
  • Are you finding cost-effective ways to communicate with your consumers to let them know that you provide an important benefit at excellent value? 
  • Are you tapping into consumers’ natural gravitation toward nostalgia, comfort, and reassurance to help drive your brand?
  • Are you helping them discover new uses for your product or service that they might not have considered before?

If you aren’t doing these things, you might be leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.  Think about how you can take advantage of the shifting needs of your consumer so that you are more meaningful.

For ‘Premium’ Brands

How are you demonstrating that you are ‘worth paying more for’?

  • Are you highlighting all of the value that you have to offer?  (For instance, Starbucks for a long time only highlighted its superior coffee and didn’t talk much about all of the other important value that it provided such as community involvement, better environmental and social practices, etc.  Now it has decided to start talking about these things to help highlight all of the value it provides)
  • Are you demonstrating a commitment to your consumers to help them get all of the value that they can from your product or service?
  • Are you identifying ways that you can add more value to your product or service, without increasing the cost to the consumer?
  • Are you considering removing benefits or attributes of your product or service that consumers might consider less important so that you can lower the cost (or at least not increase the cost) to your consumer?

This list isn’t exhaustive, but these would be some things to consider doing to help elevate the perceived value that you provide to your consumers.

At the end of the day . . .

I won’t pretend that marketing during a downturn is easy for any kind of brand.  However, if you adapt your marketing to this economic climate, it should make your brand that much stronger coming out of the downturn.  Making sure that your consumer is clear on the value that you provide is never a bad idea — and it is an especially good idea to focus on it during a downturn.

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