How is this recession different from previous downturns?

ryan-holst_downtown-hong-kong_2993297162_427f61a1a5This recession is different from recent ones due to its pace. While the downturns of the ’90s had a slower build-up, giving businesses and consumers time to prepare, this one has been rapid, and many people have been caught off-guard. But there’s no need to panic. As Art Buchwald once said, “Whether it’s the best or the worst of times, it’s the only times we have.”

First, not all countries have been impacted to the same extent. While it’s definitely not business as usual in APAC, there are still countries with decent growth, including India and China as well as Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand, to a lesser extent. More mature economies, like Japan, have been hard hit. And the economic situation in some countries, most notably Thailand, is exacerbated by ongoing political problems.

Established brands are not going to disintegrate overnight. Millions of dollars go into the creation of leading brands. And layers upon layers of conversation between the brand and its consumers have been built up over time. Today, because of the various media available, it’s easier than ever to keep that conversation going and maintain a level of brand awareness. In particular, digital provides a powerful multiplier effect that allows a brand to engage and to go viral.

In the past few years, we have witnessed a fundamental shift in power between buyers and sellers. Buyers are now very clearly in control through the technology available to them. Consumers around the world conduct a robust dialogue on the minutiae of product quality and customer experiences. When someone is displeased, word spreads, and if the brand doesn’t respond quickly, it fades.

While brand weaknesses are quickly exposed in this digital world, marketers also have an unprecedented ability to maintain a dialogue with consumers. Businesses must leverage digital to maintain their brands through this downturn.

Photo credit: Ryan Holst

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