Marketing During a Recession: Lessons from Resilient Brands

Currently, economists are anticipating a  substantial economic slump, which might have far-reaching effects for both B2B and B2C companies. The second half of 2022 saw the fastest increase in inflation rates in forty years.

Many companies think about reducing their spending in these bad times to stay afloat. When it appears that the economy is about to enter a cooling phase, many businesses decide to trim their budgets, staff, and activities to weather the storm and reduce the risk rather than pursuing higher market share or foraying into whole new markets. 

Unfortunately, one of the areas often targeted for budget cuts is marketing. 

Maintaining or even boosting marketing spending during a slump might have long-term benefits for your brand. It is critical to remember that marketing is an investment in a company's future. Marketing aids in the creation of brand awareness and the rise of demand for a company's products or services. Without marketing, potential buyers may ignore a brand, resulting in lower sales and revenue. In a difficult macroeconomic climate, reducing marketing spend can have a substantial influence on your potential to make a comeback once the economy rebounds. 

Case studies from across history demonstrate time and time again how the most successful firms adjust to take advantage of economic instability by marketing during a recession. However, that does not imply that they just keep things as they are. This article will walk you through how the most successful brands do it and provide you with actionable insights to carve your marketing strategy during an economic downturn. 

By using successful marketing techniques, the following businesses have survived and grown despite economic downturns:


Marketing was critical to Citigroup's ability to grow after the 2008 recession, as it was one of the only banks to raise assets since the recession. It excelled over its competitors by focusing on excellent branding and providing perfect customer service. Furthermore, mixing empathy with their branding story, such as sponsoring specific community services, assisted them in appealing to a diverse client base.


To effectively manage the global financial crisis of 2008, McDonald's used a variety of marketing techniques. The business concentrated on bargain pricing, providing budget-friendly menu alternatives, and advertising its well-known dollar menu. McDonald's also made investments in advertising campaigns that highlighted accessibility and family-friendly activities, which connected with budget-conscious customers and boosted sales growth despite a difficult economic environment.


Coca-Cola adopted a brand loyalty and emotional connection marketing strategy to sustain the 2008 financial crisis. The company developed the "Open Happiness" campaign to highlight the happy and uplifting moments that its beverages may bring to people's lives. Coca-Cola provided consumers with engaging and memorable experiences across a range of platforms, such as television commercials, social media, and experiential marketing. By associating its brand with joy and strong emotional ties, it was able to keep customers and lessen the effects of the recession.


To sustain Covid 19’s impact on tourism and the travel industry. Airbnb's marketing strategy was modified to emphasize local and domestic travel alternatives. The corporation created a promotion dubbed "Go Near," which encouraged customers to visit neighboring attractions and book local accommodations. Airbnb promoted its platform as a secure and convenient option for vacation during difficult times with targeted digital advertising, email marketing, and relationships with local tourism organizations. This technique assisted Airbnb in remaining relevant and capturing a share of the evolving travel market.

Although there isn't a marketing strategy that can withstand a downturn, it is obvious that remaining competitive is essential. Failure to do so may result in short-term cost savings but at the risk of a dwindling market share that may require years to regain. Here are some good tactics to watch out for: 

1.Explore the tangential impact of the crises on your target audience

According to Harvard Business Review research, the top ten most empathic companies raised their monetary value more than twice as much as the bottom ten companies and earned 50% more. By displaying empathy, businesses of all sizes can increase customer loyalty. Customers are more likely to remain loyal and return to your brand in the long run. 

2.Adapt branding story 

The secret to branding, regardless of the state of the economy, is to appear in front of your target audience and communicate a message that inspires people to take action. It is crucial to adjust while the economy is struggling. Make strategic changes, such as focusing on one main advantage rather than several, or getting rid of branding components (such as logos) that can be substituted with others. 

3.Act upon Data 

Companies will benefit from maintaining a consistent approach, avoiding impulsive choices, and long-term planning. Measuring and analyzing your efforts are essential as your organization experiments with various marketing strategies, income sources, management systems, and business models. It's crucial to monitor KPIs related to engagement and conversion in any economic environment. In an economically constrained market, it is more than important. Ensuring your performance tracking is efficient and having your team frequently analyze your data and mobilize useful ideas is crucial. Brands need to maintain an agile mindset and modify their efforts as needed by measuring and analyzing the outcomes of their marketing strategy.

4.Content is still the king

In a downturn, a company’s marketing approach should be adaptable, but the priority should be to create high-quality, value-based content. Value-based content is important for many reasons, but it will particularly aid you in a downturn by demonstrating to clients why they should continue to purchase your goods or services.

5.Zoom in on your focus 

It is essential to narrow your focus to only the most important issues during a period when resources are limited. Make a thorough plan to assess ROI on each aspect. Depending on your industry, this might be an excellent chance to keep tabs on market developments and determine how your company can fill a niche. More than ever, customers want value in uncertain economic times. Because of this, economic downturns provide wise businesses with an opportunity to critically evaluate their brand offers in addition to reallocating marketing spending. Brands should focus their efforts on their most relevant product lines and even consider developing new products that generate more added value if customers are unable to afford top-tier goods at premium rates.

Want to learn more about business growth? 

Knometrix is an industry leader in market research and intelligence services. We offer a range of services and tools that can help businesses gain a competitive advantage. Our approach to competitive intelligence involves gathering and analyzing data from a variety of sources to provide businesses with a comprehensive view of the market and their competitors. Get in touch with us to know more.

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