This video is worth the watch. It highlights how marketers can segment and market to their consumers in the economic downturn. The interview is with John Quelch. Check out his blog here.
One of the really interesting points (around the 10-minute mark) from Quelch was that during a recession consumers may train themselves into new behaviours that might not be reversed when the good times roll back in. For instance, if someone had a broken washing machine, instead of going out and buying a new one right away, they would call a repairer and try and another couple of years out of it. If this turns out to be the general case, the recession could actually curb the consumerist nature of society.