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Marketing Your Way Through Uncertainty

Right now, consumer and business confidence is patchy, the jobless rate is creeping upward, and some of those old reliable brands face increasing pressure in a post-GFC world. Economic uncertainty has almost become the norm, it seems.

What we can be certain about, according to the Harvard Business Review, is that in times of turbulence consumers display certain behaviours, including:

  • Consumers are more agile and less loyal because of effortless access to information and problem-free purchasing

  • Buyers tend to seek straightforward, user-friendly products and services that simplify their lives

  • Philanthropic consumption and spending have a tendency to diminish as people focus on their own situations

  • Shoppers tend to part ways with expensive green products and instead cheaply and discreetly reduce waste

  • High-priced, frivolous, or “extreme” leisure experiences, all the rage during more buoyant times, tend to be less popular.

Unsettled economic times are no time to attack the “supply side” by cutting budgets, reducing marketing activity or dropping customer service levels. Instead, focus on what you can do to improve demand across markets which are becoming increasingly dynamic, connected - and competitive.

According to The Economist, branded businesses enjoy margins double that of their counterparts, with greater levels of loyalty. So it’s apparent that in this increasingly competitive world, well managed brands - those that have clear positioning, understand their markets and cultivate relationships with their audiences - drive profits. Support your brand further by:

  • Researching your customers: times of change are an ideal time to understand your customers. How do they search for your products and services? Are your current pricing tactics working? What do they think of your reputation, your value, your service?

  • Embracing the importance of “the conversation”: the days of passive, reactive consumerism are over and digital channels should be seen as the seamless and interactive “glue” that connects consumers, products, services and employees. This two-way conversation starts from the top; management should be regularly talking with customers, suppliers and staff to ensure the organisation is adapting to and innovating as a result of change.

  • Using Big Data: most of us have a plethora of statistics (campaign results, website analytics, customer surveys, profitability and so) at our fingertips. Ensure your Big Data can be distilled into a meaningful and simple format to help you make commercial decisions.

  • Maintaining marketing spending: It is well documented that brands that increase marketing during tough times, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times. Reassure uncertain consumers with positive, values-driven messaging and avoid gimmicky, risky or neg

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