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Some things should be done in a recession...

     In the first three months of 2009, negative impacts of the global economic crisis risen from the U.S. appear obvious in the developing countries including Vietnam.

     Unexpected fluctuations along with assembly line collapse of big financial institutions make the analytic and forecasting activities difficult. While the Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecasts the economic growth rate of Vietnam in 2009 reaching 5.2%, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the prestigious magazine The Economist gives a worse prediction: 0.3%.    

    Tighten unnecessary expenses, cut down workers are solutions selected often by businesses when facing to recession. However, challenges are often associated with opportunities. In any case, keeping pace with the market and finding the new output for products are always the first priority. To ensure this, businesses need to enhance the effectiveness of marketing activities even when marketing budget becomes increasingly limited due to "contractionary" policy in the crisis. Master characteristics and impacts of the crisis and promptly adjust the marketing strategy will not only help businesses overcome the immediate difficulties but also take advantage of opportunities to speed up.

1. Research on customers:

     Immediately, you need to understand how your customers define value and react to the crisis. Flexible properties of the price is changing. Customers will spend more time searching for longer-lasting products, bargaining more carefully when going shopping. Customers are willing to delay shopping or pay lower price. Essential features of yesterday can become non-essential ones of today. The pretigious brand names are the first choices of customers while the demands for new brand names or new products decrease.

2. Focus on family values

     Customers tend to "shrink" within their family. When you make advertising messages, select images of a warm happy family instead of strong, adventurous images emphasized by personalities of any famous persons. Marketing via greeting cards, phone, contents relating to other forms of consumption such as home decoration, home entertainment ... will remain effective because a sense of uncertainty make customers prefer to stay home but they still want to connect with relatives and friends.

3. Maintain marketing budget

    Economic crisis is not a good time to cut down costs for marketing activities. Normally, companies maintaining its marketing activities in a recession will increase market shares, investment efficiency compared to the companies choose the "contractionary" policy. With unsecure and uncertainty thinking, customers need a regular reaffirmation of businesses on their products and services. If you must cut down costs for marketing activities, consider changing to less expensive forms such as reducing duration of an advertising clip, changing from television advertising to radio advertising, marketing on website ... You can also implement direct marketing campaigns to bring the immediate efficency to your business.

4. Adjust the product catalogue

     Coordinate with sales department, marketing persons need to make forecasts of demand for each product category that their company is providing. Businesses should initiatively remove products forecasted to be undesirable in the context of economic recession from catalogues that need marketing. Marketing tricks should be replaced by actual quality of products, reliability, durability and safety. New products, competing with products of other suppliers in the market, can also be promoted but businesses should focus on exploiting competitive advantages from price rather than brand image.

5. Support distributors

     In the economic crisis, no one wants to prolong the state of capital remain remains with large inventories. Share your problems with your distributor agencies through appropriate preferential and encouraging policies. Under the pressure to find out the output for products in the crisis, businesses should not hastily reach low-level distribution channels because this movement could negatively affect your relationships with existing agencies and your brand image built up for a long time. You should also notice this is a golden opportunity to remove inefficient agencies, strengthen capacity of sales team through the selection and hiring capable sales persons who have been dismissed by other conpanies.

6. Adjust price policy:

     Customers are willing to spend time looking for and buying the best items. Businesses do not necessarily have to cut down list price, but you should consider movements that stimulate the demand such as reducing the temporary price (especially low-value products), reducing the threshold of accumulative value to get promotion when buying goods... Methods of implementation include: improving the quality but still keeping the price; reducing the price but still maintaining the quality and avoiding reduction of both quality and price.

According to Sai Gon Weekend Entrepreneur Newspaper No. 294, issued on 3/4/2009

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