Market crashes are unavoidable. That's true for even the best stock pickers and the brightest asset managers. Since 1928, the S&P 500 has dropped 10% on 54 different occasions -- that's once every 1.7 years. Put another way, the next big drop is probably less than two years away, though it's impossible to predict the exact timing.

Investors shouldn't fret, though. Every past market crash has one thing in common: They have all ended with the market hitting new highs. In other words, downturns in the market tend to be buying opportunities. That's why investors should keep a watchlist and a little cash in their portfolios.

For instance, I plan to buy Lemonade (NYSE:LMND) and salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) during the next market crash. Here's why.

Investor watching a red trend line plummet.

Image source: Getty Images

Lemonade

Lemonade reimagines what it means to be an insurance company. Its digital-first model does away with tedious forms and biased pricing tactics, relying instead on big data and artificial intelligence. This drives efficiency across it business, from marketing to underwriting, and gives it an advantage over traditional insurance providers.

Here's one example: Lemonade uses AI-powered chatbots to help consumers buy insurance and file claims. This removes friction from the user experience, and it also reduces Lemonade's reliance on human agents. As a result, the company spends less on payroll, and can pass those savings on to customers. That's why Lemonade's prices tend to be lower than the industry average.

Lemonade also takes a different approach to monetizing its business. After taking a flat fee (and covering claims and expenses), it donates any remaining premiums to nonprofits selected by its customers. In 2020, Lemonade donated $1.1 million to charity. In other words, Lemonade doesn't make money by denying claims -- and this aligns the company with its customers.

Lemonade is still a young company, but there is no question that its customer-centric business model is gaining traction.

 

2018

Q1 2021 (TTM)

CAGR

Customers

308,835

1.1 million

76%

Gross Profit

$3.1

$22.1 million

139%

Data source: Lemonade SEC filings. CAGR = compound annual growth rate.

And Lemonade appears to be gaining momentum. In 2021, customers ranked it as the no. 1 provider of renters and homeowners insurance in the U.S., according to Clearsurance. The only category it didn't win was car insurance, and that's because its car insurance product (Lemonade Car) hasn't launched yet.

That will change in the near term, and when it does, Lemonade's customer centricity should help it hit the ground running. Moreover, this new product will boost Lemonade's market opportunity by $300 billion. From that perspective, this tech company hasn't even scratched the surface of its true potential.

So why buy Lemonade during a market crash? Insurance is a necessity. It doesn't make sense for consumers to cancel policies just because the market (or economy) takes a dive. It would be much more sensible to reduce discretionary spend (i.e. travel or entertainment).

Salesforce

Salesforce specializes in customer relationship management (CRM). Its Customer 360 platform allows clients to collect and organize data like customer contact information, account history, and past communications.

Ultimately, this helps different departments -- sales, services, marketing, commerce -- collaborate more effectively and work more productively. Salesforce also infuses its platform with artificial intelligence, allowing clients to automate tasks, access predictive analytics, and build AI-powered chatbots.

In 2020, Salesforce had a 19.5% share in the CRM market, according to the International Data Corp. (IDC). Put another way, it had more market share than the next four rivals combined. That success has made Salesforce one of the fastest-growing enterprise software companies in history.

Metric

2018

Q1 2022

CAGR

Revenue

$10.5 billion

$22.4 billion

26%

Free Cash Flow

$2.2 billion

$5.6 billion

33%

Data source: Salesforce SEC filings. CAGR = compound annual growth rate.

Looking ahead, CEO Mark Benioff believes Salesforce will reach $50 billion in annual revenue by fiscal 2026. If true, Salesforce would hit that milestone faster than any rival. In other words, Benioff expects the company's strong performance to continue. If you're an investor, you have to like that confidence. 

So why buy Salesforce during a market crash? It provides an essential service. With its platform, sales reps can identify leads, service agents can provide better support, and marketers can create more personalized campaigns. Enterprises have many sensible options to cut costs during a downturn, but skimping on customer experience isn't one of them.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.