How has the recession affected brand strategy?

Many advertisers and marketers position their brand message to Maslow’s higher order needs (e.g. the need for belonging, esteem, self-actualization) on the pyramid.   Has the message changed as a result of the recession?

Mr. John Gerzema, author of Brand Bubble argued that because of the recession we need to embrace the lower order needs (e.g. the needs for safety and physiological protection) on Maslow’s hierarchy.  Fear and uncertainty are on the rise.  The marketers that will have a competitive advantage from this recession will replace passion with compassion.  Evidence of this includes Hyundai’s current campaign called Hyundai Assurance, which lets any Hyundai owner walk away from their lease or loan on a new Hyundai vehicle, if they lose their job within 12 months of the purchase.  In the first quarter of this year, the entire automotive industry in the US was down 38.4% between March 2009 YTD versus March 2008 YTD.  While Hyundai’s sales were up 0.7% during that same period.

There are a few businesses that have succeeded in the recession. Evidence is apparent with the Match.com, The Economist Magazine, LoveFilm and MTV.  In these four case studies, all are able to adapt to people’s interests as a result of people cutting back in their budgets.  The most compelling case study is with The Economist.  Its rich content about the recession and the banking crisis certainly appeal to people, but in my opinion,  it is its creativity in leveraging different media such as its podcasting, online content, magazine content and its educational guides on various subjects such as advertising that help differentiate this magazine with others.

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