Monday, December 22, 2008

Who needs marketing in a recession? All of us, actually.

There’s no hiding from the fact that the marketing industry, like the majority of sectors, faces tough times ahead as it heads into 2009’s inevitably stormy waters. The downturn in demand for non-essential goods and subsequent abandonment of lavish consumer spending has led many to question marketing’s fundamental purpose and role in society. Do we really need to be bombarded with marketing messages for non-essential goods when the majority of us are now struggling with increased fuel and heating costs, high food prices and spiralling interest rates?

Despite the predictions of the anti-marketing brigade and claims that we no longer need to be told to buy items we can easily live without, the answer to this question is unequivocally ‘yes’. The money that UK consumers are spending takes on a significantly increased value as customers become more and more discerning. The old days of ‘buy now, pay later’ spending on the latest gadgets, clothes, CDs and games consoles has been replaced by careful and considered deliberation, meaning that the role of marketing becomes more important than ever – in a diluted market, marketers need to make sure that their messages are more concentrated than ever before.

The choice and ready availability of consumer goods hasn’t suddenly seen a sudden dramatic decline – rather, the wallets that have previously been so eager to open and snap these goods up has become more and more difficult for retailers to open. With huge choice still available to consumers, marketers need to make sure that every product, brand and service they represent is targeted to stand out and make consumers take notice. Consumers are proving harder to convince, meaning that the marketers of 2009 will need to work twice as hard to persuade consumers to part with their ready cash.

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