How Communicating Through a Recession Can Provide Growth Opportunities

Almost two months into a global pandemic, people and companies are shifting from shock and panic to a “new normal”.

As business adapt, leaders are working hard to ensure the health and security of their organizations and their people. Key to this security is ensuring that communications meet the needs of now and are setting up for tomorrow’s success. It may seem counterintuitive, but this crisis and recession provide an opportunity for companies to grow their share of voice and share of market.

COVID-19’s Impact to the Marketing Industry, so Far

This pandemic has accelerated changes in consumer behaviour. But, there is a disconnect between consumer habits and brands’ responses to them.

People are consuming more information, entertainment and content than ever. Canadians are watching 84% more news as we work from our home offices, living rooms and kitchen tables. Demand for online content is up, with people spending more time online. Yet, ad sales have not increased. Around the world, marketers are adjusting, delaying and cancelling campaigns. In Canada, nearly half of all campaigns are on hold.

Changes Happening in Consumer Behaviour

People still want to hear from companies and will use this time to engage with brands they most align with. As society continues to live with uncertainty, people will make consumer decisions that help them feel in control in at least one aspect of their lives. Eighty-four per cent of Canadians say they will base future purchases on the behaviours and actions of companies during this crisis.

Overall, COVID-19 and its pending recession will create educated and aware buyers who will know which brands and tools meet their needs as they shift further towards digital and direct to consumer purchases.

Businesses will Have an Opportunity to Grow Their Share of Voice and Share of Market

The best marketers will spend instead of cutting their budgets. It’s a trend that’s been seen in every economic downturn since the 1920’s, and further evidence shows companies that fully cut their ad-spend during the 2000-dot-com bubble took five years to recover financially.

Because most firms cut their marketing during a crisis, there is reduced competition for share of voice. That translates to reduced noise, which increases the impact of a brand’s current investment as consumers have more space to filter brand choices.

Long-term, increased or maintained marketing during a crisis results in a higher share of voice, higher sales and a higher market share. Brands that ramp up their marketing as the economy picks back up are challenging a competition that has spent months generating customer value and boosting brand awareness and profits.

Using Communications to Thrive Through a Recession

At the start of this pandemic, many brands stopped speaking to the public simply because they didn’t know what to say. This is the time to pivot messaging and defend share of voice. If marketers have no option but to cut their spend, it’s important to maintain SOV above competitors, monitor what other brands are saying and be able to adapt quickly. Smart advertising will use the right tone and message at the right time.

For now, it’s important that brands continue putting people and purpose over profits. Focus on customers, integrate them and put them first. Sixty-two percent of Canadian consumers want brands to stand up for the issues they’re passionate about. Use your brand to bring people together and create a community with shared goals.

By maintaining brand values and profile, you’ll communicate clear and consistent messaging to consumers. Support the immediate needs of consumers and plan to deliver standout experiences later.

If your company hasn’t adopted a digital strategy, now is the time to do so. When stores re-opened in China this April, foot traffic decreased by 50-60 per cent.

Wherever possible, look for emerging trends and possibilities and adapt your brand’s capabilities based on the triggers that change consumer behaviour. During this time, it’s important brands find creative ways to communicate. After all, communicating does not need to be expensive to be effective.

Cheryl Holmes About the author
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