What Happened

The subprime mortgage crisis led to the Great Recession of 2008, which resulted in the highest rates of unemployment and home foreclosures in the U.S. until COVID.

How they responded

LEGO: In 2008, The Danish toy-maker achieved double-digit sales growth in almost all of its regions (total sales were up 23%, around $746 million), while the global toy market declined around 3%. Lego attributes this growth to strengthening its business in Europe and expanding into Asia.

  • FOCUS ON DRIVING VALUE: While the Great Recession began in the U.S, it also impacted the U.K. Parents in the U.K. purchased Lego products during this time because of its affordable price point and durability—offering toys with long term value for children of all ages. This led its sales in the U.K. to grow 20% during the first half of 2009.

GROUPON: The Chicago-based ecommerce marketplace launched in the middle of The Great Recession. Despite this challenging timing, the discount platform quickly expanded to 300 markets in 35 countries and obtained over 40 million subscribers in just under two years.

  • GIVE CUSTOMERS WHAT THEY NEED: Groupon offered a solution to consumers (discounts) and small businesses (marketing to new customers) during the economic downturn. The platform’s wide range of offers, from discounted massages to all-inclusive beach vacations, was especially appealing to cost-conscious consumers. Groupon’s unique value proposition helped the company grow its total revenue by close to $300K between 2009 and 2010.

NETFLIX: When the recession hit, many entertainment companies struggled to survive, but Netflix found its footing during the Great Recession and attracted three million new subscribers by the end of 2009, 33% growth over the year prior.

CAST A WIDE NET: The company expanded into online streaming in 2007, which offered consumers an alternative to costly cable and satellite TV services. Its $7.99 monthly fee was hard to beat and attracted consumers from all demographics to join the platform, resulting in a 22% increase of revenue between 2008 and 2009. Although the streaming service was nascent, it set the foundation for Netflix’s modern-day dominance.