Targeting new behaviour is key to marketing in a recession

Targeting new behaviour is key to marketing in a recession

Richard Storey 
M&C Saatchi

Consider 'the recession' (no doubt you have been already). In particular, consider the use of the word 'the'. Almost without exception, the downturn that is now all but official is reported, interrogated and discussed as if it were a singular phenomenon. As the meltdown of global financial systems infects the economy at large, we have become accustomed to the cataclysmic news headlines. We have also taken for granted the notion that there is one single, inevitable and all-enveloping global crisis.

This assumption is almost certainly wrong - or at least, as with most gross simplifications, inaccurate. The culprit here is macroeconomics. This would have us believe that the recession is a macro phenomenon with a single, reasonably predictable outcome. Looked at from a macro perspective, there may well appear to be a single recession. But recessions don't happen to economies - they happen to the people who make up those economies.

This prompted us to look beyond the macro picture and ask the question: "Does one recession hit all?" After all, as people are all different, surely the impact of the recession will be different for each of them? We embarked on a programme of research to get beneath the macro picture, understand some of the nuances and identify how different people are likely to respond to the downturn.

Our hunch was that this might go some way to explain some of the counterintuitive effects being reported, such as the uplift in Domino's Pizza sales, the growth of little luxuries, such as fake tan, and surging sales in Harrods, to name three phenomena that have been reported recently. We contended that by understanding the dynamics that lay beneath these effects, we could identify more interesting and effective recession-beating strategies for our clients.

Using a programme of qualitative and quantitative segmentation, we identified eight different consumer typologies, defined as: Crash Dieters, Scrimpers, Abstainers, Clothcutters, Treaters, Justifiers, Ostriches and Vultures.