Marketing during uncertainty and crisis

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2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year already, with only three months gone by, stocks and markets have already seen all-time highs and decade-long lows. But with the markets doing their own things, consumers are hardly aware of what’s happening, most just getting a small idea from the glimpse the 6 o’clock news gives the average citizen. With all this uncertainty, companies still trust their marketing divisions to formulate clever campaigns. With some research on the topic and countless hours on social media, I have observed some three aspects that firms need to incorporate in order to have the upper leg during difficult times like our present global “situation”. The keywords are: Change, Chance and Research.

Change and the ability to do so should be the most important aspect of present-day marketing. In the wild, species that are highly adaptive likely have seen more events than humankind itself. Change in the marketing strategy can either be in the way that consumers are approached about a product or how the brand is being exposed. For instance with a shutdown in local schools and universities, brands shouldn’t set up tents and give out free products in front of a closed building, besides being a health hazard it is very unlikely that a student will go near a closed school. Your consumer reach can be improved and widened by advertising your product now through social media, people spend more time at home scrolling through the internet. A person that is working remotely will probably not drive or commute to work, meaning that billboards have become somewhat obsolete in times where 40% of the working population can work from home or not work at all. With this change in people’s habits, departments should also access their success more often to check if all the work paid-off, if reports were done annually, how about quarterly reports to check for marketing indicators? Maybe even monthly?

Chance is all about risk taking, if you don’t push for innovation and try your best to thrive under difficult times given what you have, success is very unlikely. Many companies and businesses close during crises, it is difficult to maintain a client base, resources are scarce and people are only buying what is necessary. Being clever and risking pays-off really well, during the 2008 financial crisis thousands of people and firms suffered from the market crash. But some companies actually saw a rise in their stock prices and an overall increase in revenue. ROSS, a discount fashion retailer, saw a growth of above 15% in revenues and 18% in stock value. The reason was, people had less to spend but still needed clothing, so the obvious alternative in the United States besides thrifting was visiting a local ROSS warehouse. Even their trademark slogan “Dress for less” translates what the brand is all about. After their massive fiscal year in 2008, ROSS decided to expand and since then it has been posting consistent returns. Taking risks in order to increase your audience should not be seen as something to avoid, but rather a careful risk that should be taken. Since Chance also links with Change, the indicators should be of good use during risk-assessment.

What is going on and what is needed is possibly the most important before even planning new strategies. First of all, analyze your surroundings, what is going on and how will this affect me and my business. When you have a better understanding of industry trends and concerns, you can better focus your own marketing messages to address them. When you start a marketing campaign the first thing done usually is the market research, see who is your audience, market size, competitors and then you divide a business plan with all the details taken into account. The best way to show how research is important is by giving a hypothetical example. Let’s suppose you own a restaurant and the country goes into quarantine, well there is nothing you can do really, however food applications still work and delivery is a very good option. In which application will you choose to put your restaurant or maybe you will develop your own application is a good question that needs some research done to see if people actively look on the internet for the restaurant or search on food delivery apps. Logistical research and all of the technological research should not be disconsidered, can you operate a restaurant that only serves deliveries? The bottom line is that in the end, you will end up with many questions that you will search for answers before actually doing anything that is not hypothetical.

In the end, the crises have always ended, some have taken more time than others but they all have passed and taught us how to respond to future problems. The economy, just like history seems to be cyclical, so whatever happens to your company or business should not be taken in vain but as a tool for future learning.

Lucas Continentino


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