Think Different.

How is the recession affecting consumer behavior?

http://www.forbes.com/2008/02/14/unsolicited-advice-recession-oped_meb_0215unsolicited.html

“The biggest risk a marketer can take is to hope to survive doing business as usual.” This is an era in which everything that once was, is no longer. Word of mouth has been replaced by word of mouse, wedding invitations are now e-vites, and billboards are on the side of our facebook pages. The Unsolicited Advice of Marc E. Babej and Tim Pollak was written in 2008, but with the advances in new technology as well as the economic crisis we are yet STILL facing, their advice is still as relevant as ever.

As a student of Human Behavior, I play a dual role as both consumer and analyst. I am a victim and a culprit of my own craft. With that acknowledgment, I feel I can play the fence a little. Babej and Pollak note that when the economy is on a downward spiral so too is American optimism of their own financial state. Simple enough, right? It’s my job to capitalize on frugality and still make a profit. This, my friends, is hardly as simple.

Finding opportunity in the market place for a recession is not easy, but The Unsolicited Advice is quick to point out the silver lining, and in traditional American fashion, we justify trade-offs. “Put another way, fiscal sobriety doesn’t always mean literal sobriety. Consumers who are feeling deprived often seek solace in affordable entertainment alternatives. Beer, liquor, movies and home entertainment tend to do well in hard times.” What we think of as a “trade-off” is switching from an iced grande decaf soy upside-down easy caramel, caramel macchiato to a McFrappe at our local golden arches. You’re welcome.

My point is, there is a place for profit. Undoubtedly, the recession affects consumer behavior. The vitality lies in realizing how we as both marketers and consumers are able to capitalize on such fluctuation. We must market to the middle. The marketing battleground is the broad middle which both experts refer to. The middle class in America is shrinking, but those trying to stay afloat will still justify their upward spending while the individuals at the top may scale down to secure their position.

It is a compromise of economic proportion.

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4 thoughts on “Think Different.

  1. “Put another way, fiscal sobriety doesn’t always mean literal sobriety. Consumers who are feeling deprived often seek solace in affordable entertainment alternatives. Beer, liquor, movies and home entertainment tend to do well in hard times.”
    True indeed. Especially since recession brings upon stress, which in turn translate into these escapes.

  2. I recently read an article mentioning other theories on how the recession will be changing spending habits permanently, even after it is over, so this post touches base on that quite well. Businesses certainly need to put on their creative goggles to market in this economy. Great post!

    • It’s true! We’ve seen it before. The younger generations who come of age during this time are likely to maintain those habits throughout life!

      It’s all good, though – nowadays, especially with flash sales, the ability to score a deal is a status symbol: trolling for deals has gone from shameful to smart! 😉

  3. I’m a little confused about what you mean here:
    “The middle class in America is shrinking, but those trying to stay afloat will still justify their upward spending while the individuals at the top may scale down to secure their position.”
    … Do you mean the middle class will spend more, or just *continue* to spend (while making “trade-offs” on non-necessities, like you mentioned)? I think the phrase “upward spending” is throwing me off, because the article said middle-classers would likely trade down.

    Can you make any specific suggestions on how marketers can sieze this opportunity? The article mentions McDonald’s. Are others doing something similar? Are there any examples if companies who are now highlighting their less expensive brands (or something like that, that’s just an example)?

    I agree — good post!

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