Marketing Strategy in Times of Uncertainty


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There were times in the last 50 years when we thought we knew the name of the game, how to play it and which way was up. Now we have all been dumped into what we are comforted to know is a ‘recession,’ so we wait patiently for the uncertainty to pass and for the old levers to start working again. .. By Paul Fifield.


Hibernation is not a strategy. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but those patient organisations are probably reducing their chances of survival with every week they wait. If you believe (as I do) that this is not a recession but a change in the Economic
cycle identified by Nikolai Kondratiev (1892-1938), then the ‘good times’ are unlikely to make a return much before 2030.
Now, what does that mean for marketing? The last 50 years have been typified by what Kondratiev termed the economic
summer and autumn seasons; we are now in the winter period. During summer and autumn periods (roughly 1960-2008 in our
case) everything grows and it is really quite difficult not to make money. In such bountiful times, marketing only has to worry about communications to have an impact and can happily abdicate responsibility for product, price and distribution. Now that
things have changed, we are obviously left wondering whether marketing departments will be able to rise to the challenge. In fact, research from the London Business School showed that a majority of CEOs recognised that the changing business environment required significant changes in their organisations. They recognised that these changes should be driven by their marketing people; unfortunately they also considered their marketing people unequal to the challenge.


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