If you had a crystal ball in January 2023, it would be murky to see how the economy would shake out. From recession talks to spiking inflation, we’ve seen a lot of turbulence in the US economy. In the face of the initial slowdown, some brands defied the norm by intensifying their marketing efforts. Instead of scaling back, these forward-thinking companies recognize the potential opportunities that arise during challenging times. By increasing their marketing investments and refining strategies, these resilient brands are weathering the storm and positioning themselves for future growth.
Let’s explore the reasons why these brands decided to embrace the power of marketing during economic downturns.
When It Performs Well, Keep It Going
As of 2023, Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company, increased its marketing spend in 2023, with over 80% of the investment going directly into media, despite high turnovers driven by price. In addition, Unilever has also invested in “29 leading-edge digital marketing, media, and eCommerce hubs called DMCs,” which house a team of experts in media, marketing, content, and sales.
So, why did Unilever invest so much into marketing? Over the last year, Unilever saw its digital channels grow 23%, and those exact digital channels represent 15% of their overall turnover. Unilever has found that digital marketing channels have been, and continue to be, a primary source of growth, and with digital marketing’s constant state of flux, Unilever does not want to be left behind.
Diversify Your Portfolio for Different Buyer Needs
Coca-Cola is another company that has set out to increase marketing spend in 2023. Back in 2021, Coca-Cola created a new marketing model to support long-term growth that centered on consumers. Rather than focus on the quick wins and being reactive in the market, they focused on building a deeper emotional connection with customers, backed by sentimental creative and mass impressions. This new model, which sought to create “deeper connections” with consumers already paid off in 2022 with net revenues increasing by 11%.
Conscious of the economic slowdown, Coca-Cola is using data to find ways to continue to market to lower income consumers by marketing affordable options, such as a “price pack mix.” Coca-Cola is expecting to see its revenue grow somewhere between 7% to 9% by the end of 2023.
Some brands are defying the norm by boosting their marketing efforts during economic downturns. Companies like Unilever and Coca-Cola recognize the potential for growth in challenging times and are investing in marketing strategies that lean into their customer needs and historical buying behavior. Unilever’s focus on digital channels that have worked well for them and Coca-Cola’s consumer-centric approach demonstrate the power of marketing in navigating uncertain economic conditions. These brands show that by embracing marketing, they can seize the opportunity of their competitors slowing down and win over their customers.
Long term over short term, always.
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