This week, I'm chairing a conference put on by Marketing magazine on marketing in the credit crunch . They've invited an interesting roster of speakers, including people from McDonalds, Lush, innocent, and my friend Jon Rudoe at Ocado. A good mix of retailers and manufacturers from companies large and small, and promotion-driven to more premium.
I'll post some of my takeaways after the day. If any of you have any questions you'd like me to pose the speakers during the conference, post them as a comment to this blog by Monday afternoon and I'll add them to the Q&A after each speaker (and let you know what they say). Also, as thanks, I'll send a Brand Camp book to the best question.
Anyway, I thought I would introduce each theme of the day with cartoons, and I needed a good opener on consumer confidence. It's at an all-time low in both the US and UK. It made me think of shopping carts in a support group, and out popped this cartoon, which I'll use to kick off the conference.
I love anthropomorphizing characters by the way. I first played around with characters in a support group with this old favorite on trade promotions back in 2003 (yipe, a whole five years ago).
12 CommentsJoin the Discussion
Hi Tom, everything I read at the moment is depressing and even more so for the many young entrepreneurs out there. Connect Digital are viewing 2009 as a year of innovation and growth for our young digital company and I would like you to ask the leaders of these companies you are meeting this week ‘What is their philosophy when the market hardens?’ – are they going to pull the hatches tight to weather the storm, loose market share – or are they going to get on deck, launch a few more boats and see which ones will float and sail across the sea. Personally I believe that there are opportunities out there and with less competition it might even be easier to win.
Here is my question. While we think that these tough economic times are temporary (length of “temporary” is completely unknown), many companies continue to follow their long-term strategy to deliver premium value-added products that drive category incrementality. Here’s my question: How do you conduct market research testing (i.e. price/value testing) and premium-value added innovation during this period?
Jaime Chambron says
I’m curious to know the following
1. What are you doing to change your strategy based on the trickle down economic recession tide we are in (i.e. are you planning now to survive or are you waiting for something else to hit?)
2. What are you messaging to A. entice consumers to spend money on your product/survice B. convince consumers you are not going away/filing bankrupcy?
It would be great if you could ask the panel the following question:
How do you stay true to the brand (authentic) in times of an economic crisis?
Suppose you are a premium brand, and thus are (potentially) among the hardest-hit by the downturn. On one hand, you don’t want to harm your value (e.g. by suddenly offering too many price promotions); on the other hand, you are under pressure inside your own organization to “make the numbers”.
Jennifer Flamand says
I have a question from the common woman (me) to the big guys:
Why aren’t you doing surveys to find out what exactly your publics want during this tough ecomony, so you can use those buttons to create want with a marketing campaign which will draw more people to your brand?
Surveys are the key to statistics. Correctly utilized survey buttons in a marketing campaign, paired with providing exactly what the public(s) needs and wants will increase income/revenue and the value of the company = Survival in tough times.
Hope you ask this one. I’m really curious about the answer from all of those big guns.
Here is my question for you to ask the speakers on marketing the credit crunch:
After reading an article in the newspaper this weekend, it became apparent that social responsibility and green-mindedness of companies aren’t necessariliy advancing with that of society.
With our environment increasingly top-of-mind, obesity ravaging our general population, and the global economy in the tank; it seems that companies like McDonalds are continue to look the other way in order to buoy the bottom line.
How are these companies getting creative with their marketing spend to do right by the consumer (not diluting product features) and helping themselves wade through the economic downturn and to hopefully emerge on the other side with a sound marketing plan linked to a leaner and more efficient operation?
Excerpts from article – http://www.thestar.com/article/537391
Locally grown, organic heirloom tomatoes: $8.59 a kilogram.
One box of organic, low-fat, seven-grain cereal: $5.45.
Double cheeseburger at your favourite fast-food joint: $1.59.
If stock data are any indication, fast food has already begun to rush into the gaps in our diets as we try to tighten our belts. Unlike most companies, McDonald’s stock outdid expectations this quarter, boosted by a 7-per-cent jump in global sales. It has already become a tidbit of financial wisdom that McDonald’s stock is “recession-proof.”
How would they advise a small company in innovation with a big and differentiating vision to connect with them? It seems that the big companies who want new ideas continue to go to their existing consultants who have a standardized process, instead of giving young companies a chance. These young companies might offer them new and exciting ideas and approaches at a lesser cost which would be great given that many must manage with diminishing budgets.
Catherine Aguilar says
I always enjoy reading your cartoons! Brilliant!
No doubt the “credit crunch” is forcing many of us to re-evaluate our real wants and needs, and to start looking at “instant gratification” in other ways such as cooking more at home, spending more time with friends drinking wine… At home… and hunting for good deals and finding real value in what we buy.
My question for McDonald’s for example would be: Why not start with a family dinner concept in some selected locations, closer to neighborhoods where family with children live. For example, 3 nights a week offer a special “gourmet” dinner menu with healthier choices, maybe some vegetarian hamburgers, (there are many vegetarian in the US), organic options, etc. It is possible that families that cannot longer afford to dine at a nice restaurant would pay a bit more if they could find “real value” (real good food) at a McDonald’s. Is that too crazy?
I want them to know that they are not pulling the wool over our eyes by making smaller products and charging the same amount as they did previously. I am sick of small cereal boxes that don’t last 4 sittings and other product containers full of air and cardboard.
Please treat us with some respect. Give us real value for our money and we’ll stay loyal. KJJ
I’m curious what you and your panelists think are the “buzz” words (and maybe phrases) of marketing in our new economy?
Very topical considering many of the brands I work with… Was “Trading Up” as much of a phenomenon as we thought, or simply the laws of economics? As we move into times of less prosperity and disposable income, how does a premium consumable brand survive? Is it really testing that one thing? Does image matter or do we need to focus solely on the functional benefit? Or, do you position yourself as an affordable luxury in these trying times?
Thanks for the Sunday laughs!
Tom Fishburne says
Hi all, a big thanks to all of you for your feedback and questions. This topic obviously struck a real chord. I covered as many of these with the speakers as I could, and will be posting my notes over the coming days.
A Brand Camp book goes to Jeff, who framed a key dilemma that McDonalds and others face. I was surprised (and fairly impressed) by some of the positive steps I heard from McDonalds today on some of their programs in the UK. I’ll post some of these takeaways soon. Thanks!