The Coming DEPRESSION…Should Marketers be Concerned?

Depression…that word frightens consumers, business owners, and politicians to the core of their souls. Yet, for the first time in my adult life, that term was used today by Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater, and esteemed financial expert. His exact quote while discussing asset valuation was “All Weather…is a portfolio in which the assets are supposed to balance each other. But the problem last year (2015) is that almost all asset classes in the world went down in value. That can’t go on too long without producing a depression.” Let me repeat…a DEPRESSION!

Now it can be argued that the financial system is in much better shape than during The Great Depression and banks are much more stable. But, where is the consumer? Even though billions of dollars are being returned to the consumer’s wallet via lower gas prices, sales at retail remain weak at best to flat or declining at worst.

Our national political candidates, regardless of party, tout their individual plans to “Make America Great Again!” or to “Heal the Divide”.

Communicating With Words

Words do matter. The use of the word “depression” is frightening. Saying that America is not great anymore draws down the confidence of consumers. And for marketers, the reduction of consumer confidence, the tightening of consumer spending, and the constant drum beat of political browbeating of America just makes our job to sell stuff more difficult.

The Future is in the Past

So what’s a marketer to do when all the world seems to be full of is gloom and impending doom? As a professor of marketing, I often look for case studies to help guide the way. In The Great Depression, companies that continued to advertise, those that understood consumers had both needs and money, and those that highlight the value they provided to the consumer in meeting needs, didn’t just survived, they thrived.

In his 2008 article titled “How brands thrived during the Great Depression”, Dave Chase provided a history lesson noting that “To put it bluntly, the companies that demonstrated the most growth and that rang up the most sales were those that advertised heavily.”

Bury your Marketing Money in the Backyard?

Is there really a coming depression? It’s not likely. We seem to have learned from history and have put our financial house in some sort of order. But, with fear of the dark often comes actions and attitudes that make the dark dangerous. For businesses and their associated marketing professionals to retrench, cut off advertising, and act as if the sky IS falling will only create a bleak dark future. But, for those of us who look to history and promote our products and services more to consumers as solutions, the future is bright.

Taking Control

So here is a challenge to all of us, we marketing professionals. Let’s put the foot on the gas…hard! Heck, gas is pretty cheap anyway…so let’s go! Let’s show leadership, remind our bosses, business owners, and clients that the golden age of opportunity for growth is now and that communicating our value to consumers will improve the bottom line. History proves it and we need to shout it from the rooftops!


Dr. Paul Carringer is an associate professor of marketing at Columbus State Community College, adjunct instructor of marketing at Franklin University, and the president of Caring Marketing Solutions, a full service PR, advertising, and production company established 22 years ago and located in Grandview, Ohio. You can contact Paul at

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