January 15, 2009

Ici Paris I: A Crisis Bubble? After all the doom and gloom some optimistic voices about the crisis from Europe

Like last year these days I attend in Paris the International Congress Marketing Trends. This rapidly expanding conference is a forum of new Marketing ideas from Europe (but increasingly from other parts of the world).

Today was the opening. A Marketing Strategy Forum with the theme Facing Market Crisis: Crash Marketing or Flex Marketing gave the opportunity to top managers of well-known European companies to tell us what they think about the crisis. Among the participants were SCFC (French railways, owners of the high speed TGV trains), Lesieur (consumer products), Walt Disney (Euro Disney), Europ Assistance (Road assistance and insurances), Auchan (global food retailer), Michelin (tires) and many others.
My impression from almost all speeches is that no one of these companies is really in crisis management mode. The crisis seems to be everyone's mind but on strategic and even on operational level things seem to be as usual!
While I can't argue that the sample is representative I can't help thinking that the media (at least in the European continent) and self-proclaimed financial gurus are in a course of hyping things. Probably this hype rather than real economic fundamentals leads to loss of consumer confidence fall of demand, production / capacity reductions and lay-offs. After all the price of the oil is 1/3 of the price during the last summer, the European consumer is not living from credit and the Euro is strong. Next to the financial sector that during the recent years demonstrated in many cases irresponsibility and questionable corporate ethics I have the feeling that many European firms think that the crisis is a cyclical (yet more heavy than usually) event and in any case it is less serious than many people think. Maybe some of them also expect that it will be over soon.
Conclusion of the day: Flex Marketing rather than Crash Marketing! Maybe after the dot.com bubble and the real estate bubble a Crisis Bubble?