July 25, 2020

When Times Are Tough, Target Me


Sales of newly built homes jumped 55% annually in June. Google search traffic shows swimming pools are now the third most searched-for commodity, up 200% from last month. U.S. consumer spending rebounded by the most on record this past May. What’s going on during one of the highest unemployment periods and unstable times we have ever witnessed?

Use me as a sample size of one. I was furloughed at the beginning of COVID. My compulsiveness had me cleaning out all of the closets and reorganizing the entire house by the end of week one. Week two saw my vision of turning my daughter’s playroom into a media room become a reality. Out came the built-ins and the American Girl Doll village. In-came the beautiful sectional sofa, TV, rug, framed inspirational quotes and scented candles. All of these purchases were inspired through very well targeted ads on my social media feeds. Who knew that I needed all new Kohler fixtures when I started looking at kitchen remodeling photos on Houzz.com? Kohler did.

During the past 17 weeks I have renovated four rooms and purchased both work from home and athleisure wardrobes. My 11-year old daughter has also been targeted as evidenced by her fashion and beauty purchase requests that she is certain are essential. Just as I had re-imagined my daughter’s playroom, I had also re-imagined life during COVID and that’s why these advertisers were smart to target me. Marketers have convinced me that I need a “Zoom shirt”, work from home apparel that I can also exercise in, steaks from Omaha and multiple beach coverups from a website I have never heard of before. The smarter marketers have also tugged at my heart strings by declaring that they are donating a portion of all sales to fund masks or further COVID research.

There have been a number of studies going back nearly a century that point out the advantages of maintaining, or even increasing ad budgets during times of crisis. Those advertisers that maintained or grew their ad spending increased sales and market share during a recession and afterwards. In the humble opinion of this sample size of one, keep it up. It’s working.

Priya Narang

Priya Narang is an established leader in global marketing with a wealth of experience overseeing media, marketing and creative strategies for top brands and Fortune 500 Companies.