Is economic recession the time to maintain Brand Building or not?



By Iquo Ukoh

Nigeria is officially in recession and so many brands have muted their brand activities and media noise. It is understandable that if sales figures and profit margins are plummeting, spend on none sales driven activities should be reviewed including marketing. When businesses are in survival mode, normal activities that should support business growth and sustainability are reduced in magnitude or rationalised. The emphasis is to get sales numbers first. The question is what should be kept and what should be chopped off. Even for business with positive financials, the attitude is to remain cautious in marketing and other spend areas.

Economists and financial analysts in Nigeria have given hope that the economic recession is not going to last for ever. When exactly Nigeria will bounce back is estimated at early 2019. Which means that businesses will bounce back then and consumers will return to a point where they will be able to afford more goods and services again. We all use detergents, drink beverages, use tooth pastes, seasonings and cereals at one time or the other. Even in recession consumers buy brands even if they do down grade to less known brands if they are cheaper. Consumers will return to buying and using their regular brands after the recession if these brands are still available and depending on how much the brand remained top of their minds during the recession.

Whilst it makes prudent business sense to reduce spend and protect the business , one area that I believe will be critical to future sustainability of the business is to maintain brand top of mind awareness with consumers. The ability to creatively deploy marketing budget to generate sales and retain or even increase brand awareness is critical for the business post recession period.

  1. The marketing manager will benefit from approaching the business with an entrepreneurial mindset. How differently will you manage this business if you were a start up? We can do so much with small budgets when we can think as a startup . This may not be the time for fancy stuff. Stay in survival mode. Its about ensuring that your effort is driving brand awareness at the same time pushing stock out of the warehouse
  2. Whilst social media may not be free, its cost per contact and benefit of reach when creatively used is far reaching. These are not times to just basque in number of likes for your posts. Consumer engagement is what matters. Walking in your consumers shoes during these trying times, providing tips and solutions to some of their everyday challenges is a gesture they will not forget. It does not have to be directly about your product all the time.
  3. The consumer needs to know the real benefit of your product or service. Remember you may not be the only one offering this good or service This is the time to give them a strong reason to buy if not now, then later. The messaging should be strong enough to be remembered even post recession
  4. One-on-one messaging and activation with sampling can push a lot of word of mouth testimonials which you desperately need. Disposable income has been squeezed to the limit so consumers are not ready to take a risk buying products they have not tried before. A word of conviction from their friends or neighbours is sometimes all they need.
  5. Ensure consistent and top product quality during the time of recession. Consumers are less sympathetic when you cause them to loss money at any time, particularly in a recession. Ensure you have trained personnel to answer enquires cautiously on the phone or when consumers come through to your office. All contacts and interactions make all the difference in building the brand. The whole idea is to remain the preferred option.

Implementing these suggestions may not solve all your marketing issues during this recession, it will continue to guide marketing entrepreneurs as they strive to keep their brands relevant for the consumer. Keeping the startup mindset will help ascertain good return on investment . Its time to move from being Marketing Managers to being Marketing Entrepreneurs.

 Iquo Ikoh is the CEO of ENTOD Marketing


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