It seems that everywhere I look, I am reminded that we are battling tough economic times. Whether watching the news or my favorite TV programs, reading content on the web, at the bus stop, or while reading magazines…I am bombarded with advertisements on how I can afford products and services in an economic time that rivals the Great Depression. Most advertisers seem to recognize that in order to keep sales up in a time when many are cutting “unnecessary” purchases, they must appeal to consumers where it counts the most – their pocket books.

While the degree to which consumers are becoming price sensitive to meet their spending budgets differs, experts throughout the industry agree that marketers' behavior must change to accommodate all ranges of sensitivity. Recently, The Economist ran an article From buy, buy to bye-bye, where John Gerzema of Young & Rubicam echoed this shift, saying, “there will need to be a move from passion to compassion in marketing.” Advertisers are employing a compassion-based message that lets consumers know brands understand their financial concerns. Experimenting with recession messaging to address customer concerns, while enticing them to continue spending, is a key survival tactic during the slowdown.

Additionally, The Economist details how consumer shopping behavior has normalized from projected “affluence” to saving and buying within one’s means. This new consumer behavior is expected to outlive the recession; therefore, it is prudent to assess the benefits of advertising coverage of deal terms and recession-themed advertising to retain lifetime customers.

Finally, in this new value-driven economy, consumers are increasing their reliance on social media as a “word of mouth” vehicle. More than ever consumers want to know that what they are purchasing is worth it and will look to their friends for recommendations. It is important to be active in the social network communities representing your brand and promoting your value proposition, to retain customers.

I have included some samples of advertisers that are adjusting their marketing strategy to the shift in consumer behavior. The first is an example of how Target is leveraging the keyword “coupon” to reach deal-seekers and keep competitive in the tough market.

Second, Domino's Pizza Chief Executive Officer David Brandon, center, offers a "big-taste bailout" aimed at "hardworking people on Main Street," not "fat cats on Wall Street.”

Another savvy advertiser, Trojan condoms leverages clever recession messaging to keep sales strong. The ad states, "To help America cope with these tough economic times, we put forth our own stimulus package: The Trojan Pleasure Pack."

The final example demonstrates how Jamba Juice has incorporated a combination of recession vocabulary and a fun play on words (i.e. "stimulate" and "buck the economy") with a value deal (oatmeal for $1) in a catchy way to spark consumer interest and leverage today's consumer trends.

In conclusion, it is important to contemplate the following questions during this economic time: Is your creative message aligned to the emerging value-trend? Am I capitalizing on value, deal and coupon terms in my search campaigns? Am I positioning my products to show the most recession-worthy features and benefits? Am I actively involved with the social community speaking about my brand? Each question is key when planning a strategic response to the recession-based consumer behavior shift.

Source: Economist ran an article From buy, buy to bye-bye
Target search ad:
Domino's commercial: YouTube
Trojan commercial: YouTube
Jamba Juice: