John A. Quelch, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, offered eight suggestions in his March 3, 2008 blog posting “Marketing Your Way Through a Recession.”
1. Research the customer
2. Focus on family values
3. Maintain marketing spending
4. Adjust product portfolios
5. Support distributors
6. Adjust pricing tactics
7. Stress market share
8. Emphasize core values
As a CI professional monitoring your key competitors, which ones should you be watching for?
First, maintain marketing spending while emphasizing family values. According to Quelch, “It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.” Research how your competitors reacted during the last downturn and then probe to see if they may respond similarly during this downturn. If history is not a good predictor of their competitive behavior, then check your sources for changes in spending on advertising and promotions.
What Quelch means by Family Values: “When economic hard times loom, we tend to retreat to our village. Look for cozy hearth-and-home family scenes in advertising to replace images of extreme sports, adventure, and rugged individualism.”
Are your competitors changing their advertising from cutting edge corporate imaging to home-based and/or value approaches? Have any of them put their accounts up for review to obtain a fresh message and campaign? Changed their media mix for their advertising?
Any of these signs could indicate one or more rivals seeking to grab some of your market share. Protect yourself by increased monitoring of your competitors’ advertising.
For more of Quelch’s observations on marketing, visit his blog at http://discussionleader.hbsp.com/quelch/.