The organisations best-placed will to survive the current challenging times will be those which get close to customers and are able to adapt to changing priorities before it’s too late, says Laura Hurst in The WARC Guide.

This month, The WARC Guide looks at marketing in the COVID-19 recession, including the need to look beyond a single-category lens which is unlikely to be a sufficient indicator of how individual businesses will fare in the coming months. (Subscribers can read The WARC Guide to Marketing in the COVID-19 Recession in full here.)

Writing in The WARC Guide, Hurst, director at The Foundation management consultancy, observes that marketers tend to think about categories as clearly-defined, holistic units in which businesses are subject to the same market forces – with all reaping benefits in good times and experiencing the same commercial woes when conditions are difficult.

It is easy to identify categories which will be well-placed to thrive in the coronavirus pandemic because they have the things people need – supermarkets, in-home entertainment, communications platforms – but it’s more difficult to predict which organisations within those categories will continue to prosper in a post-pandemic world where consumers and business owners are trying to re-establish a semblance of normal life.

“Whilst category gives us a certain ability to predict fortune, there’s another factor which is a powerful indicator of how well businesses are placed to weather the storm,” she says – and that’s being customer-led.

That’s a consistent story across all crises and evidenced by those businesses that bucked the category trend in the last recession in 2008. “Consider Airbnb who saw a decade of rapid growth when airlines and hotel chains were struggling, or Deliveroo who brought restaurant food to the home at a time when households were reducing spend on out-of-home dining.”

The work of The Foundation has observed a consistent pattern. “Those companies whose orientation was around understanding what was of most value to customers and aligning and adapting their offer to delivering that value in new and better ways were the ones that fared best in the long-term, both reputationally and commercially,” says Hurst.

“Those companies who prioritised commercial gain over staying relevant and useful to customers saw a steady decline over time.”

Read Laura Hurst’s article in full for more details of the five groups which outline how organisations respond to challenging economic circumstancesWARC is also running a series of webinars this week on marketing in the COVID-19 recession as part of its WARC Talks 360 series: you can register here.

The WARC Guide is a compilation of fresh new research and expert guidance with WARC’s editorial teams in New York, London, Singapore and Shanghai pulling in the best new thinking globally. It also showcases the best on WARC – case studies, best practice and data sourced from across the platform.

Sourced from WARC