Brand lessons from 2009 Recession

JWT Anxiety Index,according to its website, helps brands navigate consumer anxiety.

JWT Intelligence’ report titled Brand Lessons from the Great Recession of 2009 uses the Anxiety Index  to showcase Brand lessons from 2009. A quick glance at these lessons:

  1. Find your value voice
  2. Remove the risk from price
  3. Don’t shy away from tackling anxiety
  4. Leverage public sentiment
  5. Give consumers more control
  6. Provide a real service for consumers
  7. Inspire rather than empathise with your consumers
  8. Return to the core value of hope
  9. Re-imagine how your products are sold
  10. Use the recession to achieve a higher goal

The JWT report does a good job of showcasing use cases from 2009 for each of the “lessons”. My quick take on these use cases:

  • To me, Find your value voice is a subset of Remove the risk from price. After all, consumers are ready to take a risk with price in uncertain times as 2009, if they see a strong value in the pricing.
  • The two communication examples from Don’t shy away are examples of great, honest communication with the worried consumer. I am sure these would have generated a lot of conversations online
  • The Pay what you want example from Give consumers more control is, to my mind, not a recession specific strategy. It will remain equally relevant and clutter breaking, even without the 2009 Recession backdrop. After, even in good times, why would a consumer give away the choice to control, especially when it comes to pricing?
  • Amex’ platform for SME to network during tough business conditions is great  execution of Provide a real service to consumers. ICICI Bank supports a similar platform for SMEs in India. Someone should take a look at them as well
  • Inspire rather than empathise with consumers, to my mind, is a tonality of communication and advertising that applies to all other lessons. It cannot be a separate lesson in itself. It has to be part of the basics. India’s The Economic Times is more relevant as an example for Providing real service, in my view.
  • India specific example of Levi’s  EMI based apparel purchase scheme is a spot-on example of Re-imagine how your products are sold. You  feel squeamish about buying clothes on EMI? Go talk to the young Bangalore call centre employee, for whom style and appearance is his identity. And he was facing the brunt of Recession 2009. What better way to continue feeling and looking good as a 20 year old, with uncertain future,than buying branded apparel for a pittance every month.

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