In economic downturns, people are less willing to donate to charity. But then, they are likely more willing to spend their time—the new currency—or other resources to support a good project. The new Austrian platform SOS Mother Nature, initiated by the Austrian environmental organization Global 2000, works with this assumption: It gives people an opportunity to support the fight against global warming simply by creating a profile and spreading the word by providing a new-media channel like a personal Web site, an online banner, a screen saver, wallpaper, e-mail, mobile or SMS. SOS Mother Nature platform gets an enormous below-the-line push for free, while participants get a quieter conscience and little bit of publicity too.
In a global crisis, regional values become more important for consumers who are scared of and confused about globalization, a phenomenon that’s out of their control. Consumers’ trust can be gained via signifiers of their cultural heritage—e.g., small, likable local brands with a long tradition, like the Neapolitan wafer brand Manner; or a well-known local hero, like Sarah Wiener for OMV Austria; or a regional dialect.
One of the most famous local beer brands, Ottakringer, uses the local dialect Viennese and a local style of irony and humor with the claim “Mei bia hot ka krise” (“my beer has no crisis”) to fight consumer pessimism. And while beer sales have declined by 10 percent in Austria, Ottakringer is the only brand that is going against the trend, with growth of 0.6 percent in the past year.
DaWanda was one of the first innovative Web 2.0 marketplaces hosting professional and amateur designers selling their crafts—an online flea market similar to Etsy.com and various other me-too sites (Guzuu, Artfire, ShopHandmade, Mintd, Winkelf and so on). Recently DaWanda, which operates in the U.K., Germany and France, issued a “financial creativity challenge” to sellers: Produce handmade goods that use the theme “finance” in a fanciful way. It’s a creative way to get some buzz for DaWanda, and a good way to strengthen its bond with customers and attract sellers at a time when more people could use a little extra income.
Surveys show that Austrians have become more pessimistic. With daily news items about how the crisis is affecting the local economy and people’s wallets, it’s no wonder that only 10 percent of consumers believe things will be getting better soon while 38 percent say they will be getting worse. Some clever Austrian brands are showing how to fight the pessimism. The young mobile provider BOB, for example, has launched the Web 2.0 platform bobtivist.at—from “optimist” + “bob”—where Austrians can share tips on how to enjoy life and save money in Vienna. Such offerings allow brands to connect consumers on an intimate level, reminding them of the bright side of things rather than the doom and gloom of the recession.