Talk of a potential recession is ubiquitous and marketers are widely sharing advice on how to approach a downturn. Many are drawing their insights from past recessions such as the 2008 financial crisis. But it is at most unclear that we’re in a recession—and if we are, it is driven by factors very different from the ones that generated the Great Recession. So, marketers re-running plays from 2008 and 2009 are consulting the wrong playbook.
We are facing decades-high inflation coupled with a historic war in Ukraine—plus continued fallout from the pandemic. These are the forces businesses need to bear in mind as they devise marketing strategies to confront today’s economic challenges. We need to approach these challenges like it’s 1981—when a sharp rise in oil prices pushed inflation in advanced countries to new double-digit highs—not 2008.
To understand what today’s challenges are and how to overcome them, let’s consider how the Ukraine war, inflation and the pandemic are challenging businesses, and the guidelines marketers can follow to drive success in light of these events.
Inflationary challenges: COVID, Ukraine and climate change
The dominant economic force with which marketers need to contend is inflation. Macroeconomic, geopolitical and meteorological forces are converging to make running businesses more expensive, leading brands to pass on those costs to consumers.