In a previous post, I noted “Don’t assume you know what your customers’ needs are.”So you’ve been in business a while and in the same industry for many years. you call on the same people everytime and you know the industry inside out. So, you know what your customers’ needs are, right?Can you truthfully answer yes?Calling on the same people doesn’t mean you know them well enough to know what they need. I don’t think that one can equate familiarity with individuals to familiarity with their needs.Let’s throw the current economic uncertainty into the equation.An article in Marketing Week recently held in Adelaide expounded on one of the speakers, Dr Peter Steidl of Mindshare, (Sourced from an article “Delivering resutls through the downturn”, in Direct September/October issue, pp 14-15) He said that economic recession is not driven by inability to spend, but by the uncertainty about the future. “In fact, during a recession, consumers have more discretionary spend, due to lower interest rates and lower petrol prices. But they are motivated to re-examine habitual purchases (which account for 85 percent of purchases) both in a consumer and a B2B environment.”The article went further to say that the downturn is a “time of opportunity for marketers looking to expand their market share, because consumers are more receptive to messaging about innovation and difference.”Steidl also noted that marketing was not innovating. He maintained that marketing practice was not changing.He further noted that recessions were historically times when more number one brands went down to number three. He added that “This is the time for smaller, more agile brands to make their move.“Speed and flexibility can beat scale”, he said.Perhaps to highlight some of these points, Tim Cooper of Coopers Brewery who said that “In recessionary times when discretionary spending is being hit, people are happy to do it themselves and take up the hobby of home-brewing.”Which makes you think, you can still your product, but it may be a different model, a different configuration or a variation on your normal offering. And, if that is what your customers want, why not give it to them.Applied to the original theme of this post, do we really know what our customers’ need are, let’s consider what the current economic downturn does to his/her thinking. We can then tailor our communication to our customers, in light of how they would look at spending, when everyone is making his/her discretionary spend go further.