Part of the Solution?

You might have noticed a little something extra while standing in line at your local Starbucks, wristbands. For five dollars, you too can support the cause. Starbucks has “teamed up with the Opportunity Finance Network┬« (OFN) to create and sustain jobs. We call it the Create Jobs for U.S.A. Program. It will provide capital grants to select Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The CDFIs will provide financing to underserved community businesses which include small business loans, community center financing, housing project financing and microfinance” (Starbucks).

One of our readings in Organizational Psychology this past week entitled Restorying a Culture of Ethical and Spiritual Values: A Role for Leader Storytelling written by Cathy Driscoll and Margaret McKee look at the impact the CEOs or high executives have among their employees. Discussion about this article primarily focused on religion, but I argue that it is less about imposing religious beliefs, and more about instilling values. In a top-down corporation like Starbucks, Howard Schultz has not been a passive player. His opinions have been made very clear, and the ripples in the current are definitely making waves. In fact, he has recently received backlash/been glorified (depending on what side of the fence you’re on) because of his letter to America. It made me wonder, is this his place? Is he using his power and position to do good or to push his own agendas? Is Mr. Schultz part of the problem by encouraging polarization of both sides of these issues, or is he using his power for good? After all, what is bad about creating jobs? With the economy the way that is has been lately, we have seen everything from bailouts to now wristbands. When will it end–and more importantly how will it end?

Yahoo news posted an article today entitled Employers post most job openings in 3 years is this a coincidence? If not, how do you think this will change the way companies market? How will we as members and consumers of society be able to decipher between profit and motive?


Think Different.

How is the recession affecting consumer behavior?

“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 Word of mouth has been replaced by word of mouse, wedding invitations are now e-vites, and billboards are on the side of our facebook pages.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.