Marketing in a downturn: lessons from the past

Peter Field
Marketing consultant

In an article produced by the Financial Times in June 2008, both Procter & Gamble and Unilever revealed their intentions to maintain marketing spend into the downturn. And although more recently investment analysts have questioned Unilever's commitment, these companies' belief, clearly, is that this is an opportunity to gain market share at the expense of weaker businesses that choose, or are forced, to cut marketing expenditure. This intention was echoed by an analyst at Investec, at a recent International Advertising Association conference, who reported that there was no evidence that any of the major fmcg companies that he scrutinised were planning to cut marketing expenditure. But we know from IPA Bellwether data (see Figure 1), as well as anecdotally, that budgets are being cut.

Figure 1: Bellwether vs GDP Q1 2008