While many of us are tired of hearing about “these uncertain times,” the phrase is a poignant reflection of the deep anxiety and instability in our world. Economists are struggling to predict the recessionary curve we’re likely to experience because their models aren’t equipped for pandemics. Historically, recessions don’t look alike – but experience does offer us lessons on how our current moment must play out. The Great Depression of the 1930s ultimately led to greater economic security for more people. The Great Recession of the 2000s increased economic inequality, and the rich got richer. This time, according to Deloitte Canada, government stimulus is directly addressing personal income hardship and business cash flow. Unlike the sector-specific, top-down stimulus of 2008, this is a broad-based, bottom-up approach. It is particularly important in Canada because we went into lockdown with a heavy debt burden.
Focusing on consumer wellbeing from the bottom up
A bottom-up approach avoids a recession that increases inequality. This pandemic has taught us the value of essential services. We now clearly and collectively understand how frontline workers influence the wellbeing of a nation. Our systemic shortcomings have been exposed. Many countries – including Canada – already track GDP and produce an Index of Wellbeing. Increasingly, wellbeing will become entwined with country and corporate metrics of prosperity.
Why a bottom-up approach works
A bottom-up approach that factors in wellbeing (safety, stability, access, empowerment, control and community) will promote consumer confidence.
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How to incorporate bottom-up solutions into your 2020 marketing strategy
Brands will need to focus on making lives better – helping create a healthy and safe recovery that leaves no consumer behind. Understand customer vulnerabilities and discover what you can do to help people engage safely with your brand. Listen closely to motivations and aspirations to understand the contradictions in consumer behaviour. Create value in response to specific needs, interests and priorities as consumers re-evaluate purchase decisions.
Inspiring bottom-up solutions in action
We’ve been motivated by these brands who are putting bottom-up solutions into action:
- The Danish government is covering 75 per cent of the cost of employee salaries at private companies to avoid redundancies and increase motivation. It’s a bold, grassroots move to reduce economic recovery time.
- Hilton Hotels is increasing consumer confidence by reframing their rooms as safety zones. Hilton worked with the Mayo Clinic and Lysol to define a new standard of cleanliness sealed with a blue “CleanStay” sticker.
- Kraft Peanut Butter and other Kraft brands are supporting small business with their “Stick Together” program, donating paid media time to small businesses.
Working bottom-up solutions into your recovery marketing strategy
Providing bottom-up solutions requires targeted reach, personalization and customization. Examine your channels carefully and evaluate them based on those three key requirements. Give people easy access to your brand and allow them control over their choices.
Canadian marketers rank direct mail as the number one channel for targeted reach.1 With a strong personal touch, it’s a leading performance channel. Integrated with email and customer relations initiatives, it helps increase brand commitment. Direct mail is also a good channel to fill in gaps in other media when their reach is reduced or removed.
1 Canada Post/Ipsos. The Smartmail MarketingTM Canadian Marketer Survey, 2019.
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