Abandoning or neglecting your brand as markets tighten, only makes matters worse. Historically, companies who properly support their brands with cost-effective measures can retain and even gain share in the face of lower-priced alternatives. These same companies will be best positioned to enjoy the fruits of their labor when the economy inevitably returns to growth.
Following the U.S. Stock Market crash of 1987, Nike tripled its marketing spend and emerged from the recession with profits nine times higher than going in. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut also took advantage of this recession, promoting themselves heavily, while the market leader McDonald’s, cut back. This investment paid off by significantly narrowing McDonald’s category lead.
Recessions are tough on companies and consumers alike as both face the pressures of restricted cash flows and receding bottom lines. The bonds that brands build with consumers at such times are powerful. A recession must be viewed as an opportunity to reassess and strengthen the brand to drive the most value—spend smarter not harder.
Decisions should be focused on spending wisely, but too often companies do nothing at all. A company’s typical reaction to a slowing economy is to cut back and wait things out. Ironically, those companies end up damaging their most valuable assets—their brands.
Conventional wisdom suggests that in times of recession it is better to tighten the belt and cut marketing and branding expenditures. However, when companies cut their outreach, they also begin to cut the ties that bond consumers to those brands. For smart companies, opportunity beckons.
A downturn represents less money in consumers’ pockets and more careful consumption habits. A slimmer budget means companies must be more effective with their branding efforts. Determine what is excess or even damaging to your brand and shed it. Use your focus and resources to strengthen your position in the market and in consumers’ eyes.
As you see your competitors cutting back, recognize that now is the time to strike. If funds are too tight to make an all-out attack, cut less than your competitors. Remember, in a recession both your dollar and your message go farther.