"We feel your pain" doesn't pack much punch as a sales slogan. But it's proving to be a timely business mantra for companies like Ford ( F), General Motors ( GM) and Walgreens ( WAG). Corporate America is bursting with sympathy for downsized, demoralized consumers, people too broke or frightened to buy cars or homes. Who wants to take on a five- or six-figure loan when companies are cutting jobs and stocks are tanking? Enter "empathy marketing." To calm nervous shoppers, more companies are offering financial guarantees to customers who lose their jobs. Before you can bring in new buyers, you have to reassure them. You must find the cause of their worries and figure out ways to make them feel secure. The auto industry has been at the forefront of this new movement. This week, Ford and GM reached out to scared shoppers by offering to cover loan payments for buyers who lose their jobs. Ford will pay up to $700 a month for up to a year. GM, which is undergoing its own corporate reshuffling, will make up to nine payments for as much as $500 per month. Both programs are modeled on Hyundai's "assurance" plan, introduced in January. Under the program, the company agrees to pay up to three months for buyers who lose their jobs. Anyone still unemployed after that period can return the car without penalties. The company reported that sales declined only 2% in February, a loss that would have been far higher without the program.