With economists bandying about positive predictions and discussing the 'green shoots of recovery', it appears that the global economy is on the upswing. For marketers, whose budgets have been cut by around 20%1 in some instances, the change can't come soon enough.
While I share the optimism, I can't help being concerned that we're going to rush headlong back into our bad habits. We might not like to admit it, but the recession was probably the best thing to happen to marketing in a long time.
Before I get lynched, let me explain. The recession has forced marketers to completely reassess the way they do business. Driven by the need to escalate sales, we simply forgot (or chose to ignore) the basics of marketing. Fundamentals such as long-term strategy, credible brand promises underpinned by genuine product value, and real consumer understanding all fell by the wayside.
Consumers were also forced to scrutinise their behaviour. As
disposable income disappeared, they were forced to analyse their
purchasing habits. More than bargains, consumers started to look
for real value from the products they purchased.
The recession also shattered consumer trust. As the greedy business practices of corporates, government, and financial institutions were exposed, consumers began demanding transparency, honesty, and sustainability.
Thus the emergence of a new, socially responsible and value-seeking consumer has forced marketers to re-learn important fundamentals. Here are a few which marketers should be paying close attention to:
It's highly unlikely that consumers are going to un-know what
they know now, and they will only get more particular in their
wants and needs as time goes on. So when the good times roll around
again, marketers need to make sure that they don't abandon their
renewed dedication to the fundamentals. Having paid so much for the
school fees, wouldn't it be foolish of us to waste this hard-won
1Forrester's 2009 CMO Global Recession Survey