How brands can survive, and then thrive, during a COVID-19 triggered recession

April 15, 2020
Industry News
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Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has instigated a global recession. Which recession marketing lessons should brands look to in order to survive, and even thrive, in the difficult times ahead?

We all know the theory: brands that spend more on advertising during a recession recover faster when the recession ends. It is a well proven fact. Except this time around we are dealing with a health crisis, the repercussions of which have impacted both demand and supply. And whatever happens, advertising alone is unlikely to do the trick.

Looking beyond survival tactics

Right now, we are all grappling with the immediate implications of the pandemic, and its social and economic ramifications. Companies have had to respond to a rapidly changing situation, with government-imposed restrictions on social and economic activity causing a major disruption to business. Companies must do what they can to cope with the business impacts, protect staff and customers and help make a societal difference if possible. However, there will come a time when things start to stabilise and then, eventually recover. And while it might be difficult to think about it right now, the companies that do not just respond to circumstances but also plan for recovery are the ones most likely to not just survive, but thrive, when a new normal is achieved.

Seek operational efficiencies and invest for the future

As Mark Ritson details, there is a wealth of empirical proof to suggest that increasing ad spend during a recession improves a company’s longer-term growth prospects. But, as Ritson notes, you need three things to pull this off:

  1. Your company must be financially able to fund an increase in spend
  2. Your management team must believe that marketing is a long-term investment, not a short-term cost
  3. You need the right strategy, content and media deployment (I assume this is what Ritson means by “you need to not be shit”).
Never mind that hospitality, airlines and non-essential retailers are desperately trying to conserve cash and service or renegotiate debt, the combination of all three factors is going to be rare.

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