Planning Your Marketing in Uncertain Times
Adapt & Retool for the New World
Meeting in-year targets amidst a global pandemic is the biggest challenge faced by marketers right now.On 14th May, ADA hosted a webinar to address this very dilemma.
First, we looked at how things have changed as a result of the crisis.

How are SEA marketers adapting to the crisis?

Figure 1: Marketing Budget Changes as Response to COVID19
Budget adjustments

We conducted a survey of over 200 ADA clients
(representing mid-large brands across a variety of
consumer-focused industries throughout Southeast
Asia and South Asia) in early May 2020. They told us:

  • Nearly 50% of Southeast Asian marketers plan to
    scale down their marketing budget
  • Roughly 24% plan to continue spending the same
    as before
  • Another 24% haven’t decided how to adjust their
    budget as a response to this pandemic
  • A tiny 2% plan to increase their spends to make up
    for lost business.
Channel Mix:

Respondents also told us that a majority of them will
shift their focus to digital channels. Hardly surprising
as digital is considered more budget-friendly than
above-the-line channels, and because of the lack of
availability in linear TV inventory such as sports.

Marketing goals and priorities
When asked how they have shifted their activities to
reflect new goals and priorities:
  • New customer acquisition remains at the top of
    priorities, both pre and post-COVID.
  • However, the biggest shift is now seen in customer
    insights which has the next highest increase in
    important. The substantial increase to refocus on
    customer insights reflects marketers’ desire to learn
    how consumers are shifting behaviours because of
    the pandemic, and how to retool their existing
    marketing strategies.
  • Attribution comes up next as many marketers are
    more conscious about eliminating waste on
    advertising channels and audience segments that are
    no longer producing results.

Now to answer the burning question. Should YOU cut
your budget? For data driven recommendations and
expert analysis of our ADA experts, checkout our
on-demand webinar or download our whitepaper.

Should I cut my budget?

For those who are still on the fence about cutting their budget as a response to the pandemic, the following matrix can act as a decision-making tool. It’s important to note that this isn’t an exhaustive matrix, and you should take into account your own businesses’ specific circumstances when plotting where you stand here.

Figure 2: Ability to Serve vs Consumer Demand

The matrix (figure 2) looks at both the ability to serve, against consumer demand; where ability to serve is defined as your ability to serve your consumers despite the pandemic and whether your consumers still have the demand product/service.

For example, if you are in the aviation industry, your ability to serve is almost none since most airports are locked down, and demand for it is also rock bottom because of travel restrictions imposed by most governments.

On the flipside, if you are in the e-commerce business, your ability to serve is not hampered because of pandemic related restrictions and the demand has gone up because people are reluctant to buy through brick and mortar outlets.

When to INCREASE spend
Consumer spend is either unaffected by the crisis (in the case of many Consumer Goods businesses) or actually increases in the case of eCommerce due to shifting patterns of behaviour. This high consumer demand, coupled with the ability to serve their consumers because they’re not impeded by physical restrictions or have a complete digital experience, means they are in a position to thrive.
We recommend doubling down on their marketing budget, i.e. increase spend to get more market share.
When to DECREASE spend
When ability to serve and demand are negatively impacted by the pandemic, it is obvious that you should be making budget cuts.
For example, the automotive industry is experiencing a huge drop in demand because people are not keen on big ticket items during the pandemic. Ability to serve is also hampered because of the physical nature of automotive sales; showroom visits and test drives.
For industries experiencing heavy economic shock, spending should be minimised. They should spend just enough so that they don’t completely disappear from their consumers’ minds.

Why Indiscriminate Budget Cuts are a Bad Idea?

Wherever you fall on the matrix above, it’s likely you’ll to deal with some form of marketing budget cut. The first instinct for marketers and their CEOs or CFOs is to make indiscriminate budget cuts across the board. This is the most common approach because it requires the least amount of cognitive strain.

But it is important to remember that not all areas of our marketing budget have the same impact. Making indiscriminate budget cuts across the board might result in short term savings, but could harm your brand in the long run. The figure below shows how indiscriminate budget cuts would reflect across a wide range of your marketing activity.

Figure 3: Indiscriminate budget cuts can harm your brand

Firstly, there will be a loss of market share to contend with. Disappearing from consumer awareness for extended periods of time will also make it harder for brands to regain market share and trust once the crisis is over

Next, by slashing their spend on insights, marketers will be left in the dark during times when consumer behaviour continues to shift drastically

Watch our webinar “Planning Your Marketing in Uncertain Times: Adapt and Retool for the New World” to understand how and where to make strategic budget cuts that still help you meet our goals. Or read our complete white paper here.

Planning Your Marketing in Uncertain Times:
Adapt and Retool for the New World


Planning Your Marketing in Uncertain Times:
Adapt and Retool for the New World