Why Marketing Makes Even More Sense During A Slowdown

Why You Should Continue Marketing During a Recession
  • By Sakshi Arora,
    Published on: Aug 24, 2022
  • Updated on: Sep 07, 2023
  • Digital Marketing

Your first response to an economic downturn is to keep in step with the sluggish markets. Most of the time, it means cutting down on marketing budgets. For instance, during the Great Recession of 2008, ad spending decreased by 13%.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Roland Vaile and Reavis Cox, who examined the 1920-21 recession, found that companies that invested in marketing continued to drive sales and growth. The 2007-2008 economic downturn also saw a similar pattern, with businesses that reduced marketing budgets performing better but only for a short period. 

The long-term consequences of reduced marketing are the same as those initially caused by a recession. So what happens when you continue marketing during a slowdown? 

Look no further to find out more. 

The Downturn Impact

In times of economic slowdown, businesses and the economy as a whole experience significant challenges. The impact of a downturn can be far-reaching, affecting various aspects of a company's operations.

How a slowdown affects businesses and the economy

When the economy slows down, businesses face a decline in demand and reduced consumer spending. This decrease in demand can lead to decreased revenue and profitability for companies across different industries. Additionally, the overall economy may contract, leading to job losses and financial instability for individuals and households.

During a downturn, companies often struggle to maintain their current customer base and attract new customers. The reduced purchasing power of consumers can make it difficult for businesses to sell their products or services, further impacting their revenue streams.

Challenges faced by companies during a downturn

Companies face a range of challenges during a downturn. Some of the key challenges include:

  • Decreased consumer confidence and spending
  • Increased competition as businesses fight for a shrinking market
  • Reduced access to credit and financing options
  • Disrupted supply chains and increased costs
  • Uncertain market conditions and economic volatility

These challenges can make it difficult for businesses to survive and thrive during a downturn. However, by implementing effective marketing strategies, companies can navigate through these challenges and position themselves for success.

Economic Impact on Marketing

During a slowdown, marketing budgets and strategies are greatly affected. Companies tend to reduce their marketing spending in order to cut costs and survive the economic challenges. This can lead to a decrease in brand visibility and customer reach.

However, it is crucial for businesses to understand the importance of efficient utilization of marketing resources during such times. By strategically allocating limited resources, companies can still maintain brand awareness and garner customer attention.

Effects of a Slowdown on Marketing Budgets and Strategies

One of the immediate effects of a slowdown is a decrease in marketing budgets. Companies may have to make difficult decisions to trim their advertising expenses, resulting in reduced promotional activities and a decrease in brand exposure.

Additionally, marketing strategies may need to be adjusted to suit the changing market conditions. Companies may target niche markets or focus on cost-effective marketing channels to maximize the impact of their campaigns.

Importance of Efficient Utilization of Marketing Resources during Economic Challenges

During economic challenges, it becomes crucial for businesses to make the most of their limited marketing resources. Every dollar spent on marketing needs to be well-planned and optimized for maximum return on investment.

By conducting thorough market research and analyzing consumer behavior, companies can identify the most effective marketing channels and strategies to reach their target audience. Efficient utilization of marketing resources ensures that every effort counts and helps in maintaining the brand presence.

Marketing Is Essential in a Recession

There are numerous reasons for investing in marketing during a slowdown.

Retain Your Customers

A recession changes customers' spending power. So, their priorities change even if your customers wish to stay loyal. That does not mean businesses stop marketing to them completely. The right strategy requires a deep dive into the customers' needs and then tweaking and adjusting strategies, tactics, and products to their changing demands.

Gain More Attention

During a recession, most businesses cut their marketing budgets. As a result, they lose their voice and brand value. Continuing to invest in marketing will ensure that your brand is not just another footnote in economic history. 

Project Trust and Stability

Businesses consistent with their volume and output enjoy four times the brand visibility over those who don't. This is especially pertinent during a recession as it signals trouble for your brand. Because of this, your consumers might lose confidence. By continuing with a strong marketing game, your customers would have no reason to worry about your business' health.  

Target New Opportunities

A difficult time is good for testing your ability to innovate and find creative solutions. Instead of considering recession a period of stagnation, it could be just the opportunity to look for newer markets, alternative marketing techniques, and revenue streams. 

For instance, the events industry quickly turned to a virtual mode when the global pandemic struck. They adapted and innovated to create products that allowed people to network and meet virtually at a time when social distancing was the new normal. And these trends are here to stay.

All of this is easier said than done as the question remains—how do you market during a recession? 

5 Ways of Marketing During a Slowdown

Pivot Toward Psychological Segmentation

Traditional segmentation of your customers – one based on demographics or lifestyle – will not work during a recession. Instead of demographics, orient towards a psychological segmentation of your customers. Here is why:
Also known as psychographics, psychological segmentation focuses on unique personal factors driving consumers' choices and decisions, including personality, activities, opinions, interests, social class, and lifestyle. This type of segmentation:

  • Allows for a better understanding of your consumers
  • Reveals unseen attitudes
  • Finetunes your targeted messaging   
  • Generates opportunity for product positioning

According to Harvard Business Review, your customers fall into four groups during a recession:

  1. Slam-on-the-brakes: These customers are the ones who are hardest hit financially and most vulnerable. They reduce spending by eliminating, postponing, decreasing, and substituting their purchases. 
  2. Pained-but-patient: These consumers are less optimistic about their standard of living in the near future but resilient and confident about the long term. They also downsize like the slam-on-the-brakes segment but not as aggressively. 
  3. Comfortably well-off: This segment comprises the top 5% income bracket, which is mostly unaffected by the recession.   
  4. Live-for-today: They carry on as usual and remain, for the most part, unconcerned about savings. Their response to the recession is by postponing their major purchases.

By segmenting your users based on these four types, you can create the right message and tone for your product. 

Invest More in Advertising

Historical data of past recessions and advertising during those periods clearly show the benefits of promoting your product during a downturn. 

First, advertising space becomes less competitive because everyone is reeling from reduced budgets and cost-cutting. You can get more attention towards your products in a less noisy marketplace. In short, more recognition for your brand. 

Second, investing in advertising reflects your corporate stability and that your buyers don't have to worry about your product/service going out of business. 

Third, your Share of Voice – a brand's advertising share among the available portion in a marketplace – increases vis-à-vis your competitors. 
Further, your ad investment should be a strategic one. Make sure your system is optimized to target potential customers and ads are customized to people depending on their place in the sales cycle. Investing in programmatic advertising also makes for a good advertising strategy.

Create Targeted Campaigns 

Apart from advertising, streamline all aspects of your marketing campaign, especially during a recession. The pressure to generate more MQL leads to increases in a downturn. For that, you need to create optimized, targeted campaigns based on your customer's choices and preferences. 

Ensure that your content and event marketing campaigns, content syndication, and digital lead generation ads are highly optimized and targeted. 

Ensure Effective Marketing Approach

A recession allows you to overhaul your marketing department for maximum efficacy. Take steps like these to make your marketing run like a well-oiled machine:

  • Integrate all your campaigns
  • Develop a robust digital marketing strategy to support your event campaigns.
    • It can start from a simple campaign harnessing the power of social media. If you already have a social media presence, you need to diversify, optimize and post interesting and relevant content for your audience.
    • Mobilize your employees to extend your social media presence while leveraging ways to get your customers to generate content. It could be a review, an endorsement, a viral hashtag, etc. 
    • Online competitions are an excellent way to engage with your audience and generate new leads without giving too much away. It gets a lot of exposure and followers. For example, you can ask customers to share pictures along with your product. For every x number of likes or follows reached, you can then have a prize drawn amongst these contestants. 
  • Consider promoting and hosting virtual events. It helps reduce costs for your company. 
  • Develop email and other lead nurture streams to be highly optimized.
  • Ensure your department works to maximize its effectiveness; create an atmosphere where your employees' skills are used properly and for growth and learning opportunities.

Focus on Value-Based Marketing

The most significant impact of a recession on marketing is a loss of consumer confidence. You can counter this by improving your value-based marketing strategy. This refers to placing your products based on the values it delivers to your audience. This particular strategy contrasts feature-based selling and marketing, often used by technology companies while marketing their products.   

The value-based approach helps ease the spending mindset of your customers by focusing on the value your product will generate for them.


A recession tests your resilience. Your loyal customers are only biding their time when things take a turn for the better to continue with their brand loyalty and consumption. Instead of an instinctive-driven response to the reduced income or market share, you should develop a creative marketing plan that works with your strengths for a longer period. 

You will ensure that you will capture maximum market share by continuously investing in marketing even during a slowdown. 
At Growth Natives, we understand what goes through your mind during a period of downturn. Our help is at hand to help you navigate through. Contact us or write to us at info@growthnatives.com to find out more.

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