Why Advertise Your Horse Business During an Economic Slowdown?
Remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. — Henry Ford
By Kathy Smith
In recent weeks there has been talk of a coming economic slowdown. If and when it comes, how long it will last, and how much of a downturn there will be remains to be seen, but often during such times businesses cut back on their marketing and advertising, fearing declining revenues.
Yet, a number of studies going back a century, as well as real life examples, confirm the advantages of maintaining or increasing ad budgets during slower economic times, proving that doing so commonly results in increased market share and sales both during and after the downturn. Rather than making your business less visible in an effort to save a few dollars, an economic slowdown may be the ideal time for creative, out-of-the-box thinking and more aggressive marketing to turn the situation to your advantage.
Although consumers may be more cautious with their spending when the economy slows, it’s important for businesses to continue to market themselves and communicate with their audience. Advertising during such times helps to keep your business, and the products and services you offer, top-of-mind with customers and will potentially attract new business.
Regardless of the economy, consumers still need countless products and services to care for themselves, their horses, and their properties. Photo: iStock/Matic Grmek
Seven Reasons to Advertise Through an Economic Slowdown
1 — Maintain brand awareness: Advertising can help your business stay familiar with consumers, even if they are not currently making purchases. This can be especially important during slower economic times when consumers are less likely to make impulsive purchases and may be more selective about the brands they support.
2 — Attract new customers: Even during an economic downturn, there are opportunities to attract new customers who are looking for good deals or willing to try new brands. Advertising will help your business reach these potential customers and showcase the value of your products or services.
3 — Maintain and even increase market share: In a slower economy, consumers still need products and services to care for themselves, their horses, and their properties. Many people passionate about their horses would sooner cut back on their own grocery bill than reduce their horse’s feed and care. When the “noise level” in a competing brand goes quiet, savvy marketers who continue to advertise can reposition their brand or introduce a new product. When your competitors scale back their advertising efforts, an opportunity exists for your business to step up and increase its market share.
4 — Build trust and credibility: Research suggests that a consumer needs to be exposed to your ad at least seven times for your brand to be considered recognizable. It takes time to develop trust with consumers. Businesses that run for cover when the economy slows will be “out of sight, out of mind” and will not instill confidence over the long term. Customers will turn to the competitor who continued to advertise, and when your timid brand returns to the marketplace you’ll be working harder to win new customers and show former customers why your products and services still matter to them.
5 — Demonstrate strength and resilience: Continuing to advertise during a downturn shows the strength and longevity of your brand, imparting confidence that you’ll be there when your customers need you. Ads that disappear during challenging times do not project the image of corporate stability.
6 — Cash in on your competitor’s absence: Media outlets want to take care of their loyal customers and show them they’re appreciated. As your competitors go silent, you may be able to take advantage of media placement upgrades and perks that become available.
Wrigley’s “Remember this wrapper” campaign reminded consumers that all of Wrigley’s product output during World War II was dedicated to supporting the US troops, connecting the act of chewing gum to supporting the war effort.
7 — Prepare for the recovery: While it may be tempting to cut back on ads during a slowdown, a smarter strategy is to look at the big picture, carefully evaluate your industry position, and think long-term. Continuing to advertise can help your business stay well-positioned for the recovery and ensure that it is top-of-mind with consumers when the economy improves. The decision to continue advertising should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific needs and goals of the business.
When the Going Gets Tough…
"When times are good you should advertise, when times are bad you must advertise."
No matter how good or bad the economic times are, you have a choice on how your business can move into the future. Here are three examples of businesses that navigated their way through turbulent economies and employed continuous advertising to help them emerge strong and successful.
Coca-Cola: During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Coca-Cola continued to advertise heavily, with a focus on promoting the idea that drinking a Coke was a small indulgence that people could afford, even during tough economic times. Coca-Cola dedicated itself to long-term brand equity by continuously increasing advertising. The company’s strategy resulted in unparalleled consumer loyalty, and it emerged from the depression strong.
A refurbished Coca-Cola advertisement from 1943. Photo: Wikimedia/Billy Hathorn
Wrigley’s: During World Wars I and II, the Wrigley Company, a chewing gum manufacturer, continued to advertise heavily, with a focus on promoting the idea that chewing gum could help soldiers stay alert and focused on the battlefield.
One of Wrigley’s most famous advertisements from World War I featured a photograph of a soldier with the slogan “A soldier never sleeps when he’s chewing Wrigley’s!” Another featured a photograph of a soldier with the slogan “Don’t forget to chew!”
When other brands were cutting back on marketing, Wrigley’s advertised during World Wars I and II, suggesting that chewing gum could help soldiers stay awake and relieve stress. Studies have since confirmed that chewing can relieve sleepiness in a night of sleep deprivation.
Philip K. Wrigley, son of the founder William Wrigley Jr., is well-known for supporting US troops while promoting the Wrigley brand during World War II. In addition to dedicating the total production of Wrigley’s Spearmint, Doublemint, and Juicy Fruit to the US Armed Forces, he kept Wrigley’s brands in the minds of American customers during wartime rationing by launching the “Remember this wrapper” advertising campaign.
Wrigley’s ad campaigns appealed to the patriotism of consumers by linking the act of chewing gum to supporting the war effort. These advertising efforts during the wars helped the company maintain its market share and solidify itself as a market leader in the chewing gum industry.
McDonald’s: When the COVID-19 pandemic prevented McDonald’s customers from dining in most of their restaurants, McDonald’s continued to advertise, with a focus on promoting its drive-thru and delivery options. The company also launched a marketing campaign called “The Simple Things,” which highlighted the comfort and familiarity of its menu items. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, McDonald’s sales and market share remained strong, and the company credited its continued advertising efforts as a key factor in its success.
One of the best-known quotes about advertising during a recession is from Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart. When he was asked, “What do you think about a recession?” his response was, “I thought about it, but I’ve chosen not to participate.”
Main Photo: iStock/Panuwat DangsungnoenStock-1321292363 - Matic Grmek