“The feelgood film of the decade”? Marketing in a downturn

Those of you who’ve seen Slumdog Millionaire will know that, with its scenes of abject poverty and startling violence, its not always the “feelgood film” it’s poster campaign suggests. But its savvy marketers clearly tapped in to a key aspect of the recession-consumer’s temperament: namely, that during a downturn we all enjoy a bit of escapism.

By focusing on the uplifting or risk-free aspects of our brand or product, we invite our customers to feel better when times are tough. Marketing expert Prof John Quelch advocates this inclusive approach: reassure the consumer that we’re “going to get through this together“.

Consumers want high-value, low-risk products (so tickets for the McKellen-Stewart Waiting for Godot are “selling like hotcakes“, while Mamma Mia broke cinema box office records). People are more willing to shop around for the best deal, so consider your offer carefully and emphasise core values: these do still matter.

Look to current successful examples for inspiration and be reponsive – the return of Cadbury’s Wispa was prompted by consumer demand, and the subsequent ad campaign played on consumer nostalgia, creating a film starring real-life members of the public brought together for the love of wispa.

And finally,  if you really want to understand the current consumer mood, look at what Cadbury did next. They said thank you.

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