Marketing In a Recession


When the economy goes into a recession or is in the middle of a massive change like the current pandemic, it is an incredibly difficult time for many. 

Having experienced and read about many of these changes, there is a massive opportunity to come out ahead if you’re able to hold the course. 

The businesses that come out of a recession strongest have a list of similar traits that help them be stronger in the recession, and then come out stronger during the recovery. Below is a helpful summary to help you focus on the key things you can do with your marketing to help you in a recession.  

Change Your Mentality

It is extremely hard to change your mindset if you and the rest of the business feel like the sky is falling or that the competition is doing better than you.

Every economic crisis for the last century has been examined and every study I’ve read showed that the strongest businesses who were most adaptable to change succeeded in both the recession and the following recovery.

They focus on helping customers, they have strong processes to generate leads, they have strong partners they can leverage, they are built to succeed no matter the conditions. They also focus on what they can do rather than worrying about the things they can’t control.

Now is not the time to simply cut costs and hold on. There are opportunities to make calculated decisions that will put you in a better position than your competitors. Remember you don’t have to outrun a lion or out-swim a shark, you just have to be faster than the slowest runners and swimmers.

So stay focused on what makes every business successful, delivering what your customers need better than the competition.

Increase Marketing by Solving Current Problems

The last time I was a marketer in a recession was the GFC and I was working in food categories. With more people unable to afford eating out, the opportunity came to tap into in-home needs of families to make ends meet. There’s always a new set of needs to be met that can create more income.

The Harvard Business Review have a great piece about marketing in a recession, highlighting 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.” It’s a great opportunity to get a stronger share of voice.

So what are the problems that consumers are facing?

  • Lack of mobility?
  • Loneliness?
  • Job uncertainty?
  • Breaking new social norms?
  • Restricted budgets?
  • How can you best solve this problem with your product or service?

For example, people are going to spend more time in their home. More people will look to renovate existing homes rather than move. During winter they will want to be warm, safe and healthy. Out of home expenditure will be transferred to in-home expenditure. Do you have services or products that help them to be warm, safe, healthy & comfortable in their own homes? But is this true?

Do a Deep-Dive of Your Target Audience’s Recession Behaviour



Talk early, talk often with your customers

Be on the front foot & be ahead of the competition

Focus on the products & services that move the needle

Emphasise core values

Focus on what you can control

By Geoff Main

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