Two articles give two perspectives on what sells during down times. In brief: nostalgia and free food.
The New York Times reports that in coming weeks Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald's, General Mills, and others will run ad campaigns featuring genuinely vintage or faux-vintage slogans and iconography. And remember that jingle: "The touch, the feel, of cotton...the fabric of our lives"? Well, you'll be hearing that again too. (If you need a refresher, click here.) The use of nostalgia to sell is nothing new, the article notes. What is original is the sped-up up nostalgia timeline, a consequence, likely, of the Internet: "It used to be that an anniversary would be commemorated if a brand or product lasted 20, 25 or 50 years. But a campaign from Viacom and its licensees promoting SpongeBob SquarePants and his friends carries the theme 'Celebrating 10 years of happy'" (yes, apparently SpongeBob SquarePants is ten years old). Nostalgia marketing is particularly conducive to recessions because when times are bad, there's no time like the happy past (no matter if that past actually was particularly happy or not).
Meanwhile, Independent Street questions the Econ 101 conventional wisdom that there are no free lunches, pointing to new marketing ploys by the likes of Denny's (whose smart recession marketing we've discussed before) and Cici's Pizza that involve free food and the like. The fact is that while down times might appear to be the worst possible moment to further cut into your profit margins, the alternative is to see potential customers stay at home and save their money. And the best profit margins in the world, after all, won't do you any good if no one's buying your product.
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