Of all the crises we have had to navigate, one thing that has stayed consistent is the importance of listening to customers during periods of deep economic change. Reaching out to the world with questions about how the shift will affect them, their spending patterns, and their preferences is undoubtedly critical for brands to navigate this shifting economic environment. The trick is to ask customers about trends, opportunities to remove costs, and possibilities for investing into technology and solutions that will propel the company forward to a spot where the market is headed.
To understand how the economy improved and ultimately ended the Great Recession in June of 2009, looking at the macroeconomic data one can see that the investments into infrastructure, direct local government aid, direct transfers to people, and tax cuts fueled the beginning of one of the longest expansions in US history. TARP, a program of the United States government to purchase toxic assets and equity from financial institutions, helped bring an end as well, earning a small rate of return for the US Government.
These actions by the government helped bring an end to the recession. But these moves also had the effect of helping companies stabilize their earnings, and they in turn began to invest and hire. What did people begin to buy as the recession ended? What industries ended up rocketing their way back to growth and profitability? The companies that succeeded were the ones that steadfastly listened and followed their customers’ needs and wants. People began to get hired again, businesses began to invest again, and the winners were the ones positioned to provide those products and services.
One excellent example of a company that grew significantly following the Great Recession was Lego. They took the opportunity to invest in new markets, they also learned they had a massive and underutilized market in girls interested in STEM type games and fun. “Now is the time to unleash corporate creativity. The greatest mistake you can make now is to mortgage your future by failing to innovate.”
The winners of the 2020s will be decided by the companies that begin to listen to their customers now. Not only should you be listening to your customers during this very challenging time, you should also be listening to your community and stakeholders. What do they need? How are they responding to your communications? How is your brand part of the solution to this pandemic? Surveying what they need and want will ensure your company is prepared for the new reality of what is to come from the economic fallout due to Covid-19.