"Branding is a business strategy, not a specific advertising or marketing strategy," explains Louis Sawyer, EVP and director of strategic planning for Sawyer Riley Compton BrandStorytellers, which conducted the October survey of Atlanta executives in conjunction with Sevista eMarketing Technology. "During an economic downturn, history proves that those businesses that invest in their brands gain notable market share and a significant return on their investment."
The study reveals business executives have recognized the power of branding and will continue to devote resources to building the company brand. According to the results, 45% of respondents indicated that their company's established brands will accelerate business performance and competitive position. Furthermore, nine out of 10 executives said despite the economic slowdown, their company is focused on supporting long-term equity of the brand or is working to balance long-term support for the brand with short-term sales goals.
"Research studies conducted by Yankelovich since the events of Sept. 11 reveal that the events have really accelerated consumers' desire to return to fundamentals such as family and community," said Sawyer. "Integrity, balance, authenticity and security are also high on the list of values consumers now desire from products and businesses they choose."
An emphasis on this set of values likely will be reflected in upcoming communications messages from consumer and b-to-b companies. the study shows that 53% of b-to-b companies and 37% of consumer companies plan to adjust or revamp their brand position based on the heavy emphasis consumers are placing on fundamental values. Specifically, executives for consumer businesses replied they will change their messages to focus more on family and community (16%) and superior quality (11%). B-to-B companies said their communications messages will change to reflect an emphasis on superior quality (21%).
As expected during a slowdown in the economy, changing the message strategy to concentrate on price and value was also noted – 16% of consumer businesses and 18% of b-to-b companies indicated they would focus more on these attributes.
Additionally, the study revealed that 94% of consumer companies and 83% of b-to-b companies will maintain or increase their spending on advertising and marketing in 2002.
Also, less than one-third of companies expect business to further slow during the fourth quarter of 2001. In fact, 21% of consumer businesses and 29% of b-to-b companies are anticipating business to climb to pre-Sept. 11 levels during the fourth quarter. More than half of the executives in b-to-b environments anticipate the economy will recover in the first half of 2002, while executives in consumer business environments think recovery will come during the second half of next year.