When times are good, it's easy to keep doing the "same old, same old." Business goes and you don't need to challenge assumptions.
When customers believe times are tight (as an Econ minor, I can't help but notice that the data doesn't support the idea of a "recession," but we all know perception trumps reality), you need to start asking questions.
You also can't go to your board, your shareholders, or your investors and say "uh, well, we didn't hit our numbers because it's a recession."
Well, you could, but you'd rather not.
So, when it's a tougher environment, the status quo gets challenged.
That's good news for all the marketing types out there itching for a change, since they can go to their bosses (the more conservative ones) and say,
"well, the usual stuff isn't working anymore and we still need to deliver, so can we 'puh-lease' try some of this new-fangled WOM/Social Media stuff?"
Now, let's put aside those companies that cut marketing as the first thing in a recession...they are the ones who view marketing, like customer service, as a cost-center, not as an investment.
But, those companies that know marketing is important and that know they need to invest, but just want a smarter return on their dollar....those are the ones who will say: "ok, let's give it a shot."
And, the best part...those that test the waters now can turn on the firehose when things really do turn around (or at least people believe they will)!