Marketing in the COVID-19 recession

This article is part of a series of articles from the WARC Guide to Marketing in the COVID-19 recession. Read more.

Why it matters

E-commerce may double its share of total retail. A sudden, simultaneous shift across macro-financial and personal life conditions, means brands active in e-commerce need to be mindful of the old lessons since the last recession, as well as think about what they can do in very different circumstances.


  • Learnings from past recessions for brands in e-commerce includes focusing on the most viable and sustainable product offerings, optimising trade and marcomms budgets and using data for investment decisions.
  • Balance these learnings with emerging dynamics from the current crisis such as reassuring the public and building trust in the end to end brand experience.
  • In a recession the need to focus on the most viable and sustainable offerings is vital. Brands should take an honest inventory and ask the key questions about Product, Proposition, Place, Pack/Price and People.
  • Peter Drucker famously said ‘the purpose of a business is to create a customer’. When people are losing their jobs and can’t feed their families, when people are isolated and scared, they are not customers. Surviving this recession means looking after your staff, looking after your partners and suppliers, looking after the people who buy and browse, and looking after your sales and profit.

1990-1991, 2001-2002, 2007-2009, 2020-20 when?