One of the secrets of the super successful is that they do the opposite of the crowd. When American’s wallets are getting tight and most companies are cutting their marketing spending, this can be one of the best opportunities to grow your brand. Some historic examples of this are Proctor & Gamble pushing Ivory soap during the Great Depression, and Walmart’s “Every Day Low Prices” during the post dot com slowdown .
The brandchannel article Brand Progression in a Recession quoted Harvard professor John Quelch who wrote “It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.”
However according to Dr. Lilien of Penn State, it takes a special type of company to ramp up marketing during a recession . “If you think about a distance runner — if the distance runner is really strong, when the runner hits a hill, the runner is gonna speed up. What happens? The runner has the capacity, but he also has the strategy and the nerve to do it.”
It may be really tough to make a marketing push when you are on a diet of leaves and twigs, but if you can survive, it can pay off significantly when the market recovers. During a recession, the fat get skinny and the skinny die, and many weak marketing organizations may go extinct. If you are engaged in a war with a weaker competitor, a strong marketing push can be a knock out blow. If you are tied with a competitor, a strong campaign may give you a great advantage if they go AWOL with their marketing efforts during the recession period. If you are able and can handle the risk, increasing marketing during a recession can be a winning strategy.