2023: Embrace the lemons

By Jon Raduch, Creative Director


The talk of recession across our news feeds is seeing business leaders review their marketing strategies for 2023… exactly where to adjust, ramp up or go cautiously. Embracing the lemons and learning from past downturns is the positive advice from one London agency.

In the field of marketing and brand visibility, a new report from London-based brand consultancy and publisher Contagious demonstrates how recessions can in fact be a time for savvy brands to create new connections with their customers. For businesses who learn and use the lessons from past recessions, 2023 might present big opportunities.

Here’s a summary of some of our favourite takeaways from the report.

Zigging while others zag

While many businesses respond to tough times by slashing costs and focusing on inward fixes, continuing to invest in brand-building can deliver even greater returns in a recession. 

While your competitors are reducing their advertising, increasing your share of voice amplifies your brand and brings far more bang for your buck. The 2022 Most Contagious Report cites research showing that brands who invested in excess share of voice saw five times as many large business effects – such as profit and market penetration – and 4.5 times the annual market share growth. 

The implication is clear: even if it can feel uncomfortable, when times are tough taking a long-term view and continuing to invest in your brand is critical. But remember that simply having a voice is not enough. You need to adapt your message and value proposition to keep ahead of evolving customer needs.

Staying close to your customers: Creativity is key

According to the report, there is a ‘Great Brand Audition’ under way as consumers look for brands that understand and offer solutions to their changing realities. An October 2022 McKinsey survey showed that in the UK, 81% of consumers have changed their shopping behaviour in response to financial concerns.

Many brands respond by simply increasing their focus on value. That’s good, but it won’t make you stand out. Others have taken more creative approaches. For example, sales of VAHA fitness mirrors exploded in 2021, with gyms shut due to the pandemic. The full-length, interactive touchscreens let clients chat to their instructor during personal training sessions.

The key takeout: it’s during periods of hardship that normal patterns are disrupted and people are most receptive to making changes. We are in one of those periods right now, and brands who can tap into the zeitgeist in engaging ways can forge new and lasting connections.

For more examples of creative branding solutions for the times, along with Contagious’ Campaigns and Brands of the Year, trends to watch in 2023, and what marketers can learn from 2022, check out the report.

Sweet or sour? 

The wisdom in embracing the lemons, according to Contagious, is it creates the opportunity to unleash creativity. ‘If 2023 is going to give you a lemon, you can suck it up, you can make lemonade, you can choose to ignore it or, better still… you could do something truly remarkable. That choice is yours.’ 

At Lemonade, we’ve been through a few recessions ourselves now, and we’ve found that the brands who stay busy, positive and visible keep staff energy high, which rubs off on all brand interactions. We are ongoingly optimistic, and if you’d like to find out how Lemonade can help you create something magical for your brand, we’d love to talk.

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