By Joanna Fletcher
Watching the changes in their own neighborhoods, as stores close and foreclosure signs keep popping up on their streets, has made even the most carefree consumers more conscious of their spending habits. Recent research, viewable at www.booz.com, suggests that this new frugal mindset is likely to stick around, even after economic pressures ease.
Marketing your products in this climate requires a change of focus from who is buying your products to why and how they are buying. From this viewpoint, customers can be divided into several categories and marketing messages crafted to appeal to their needs.
There will always be some consumers who are interested only in getting the lowest price on what they need, but the recent economic squeeze has forced more people into this category. Many of these low-price shoppers will go out of their way to get a lower price, shopping at stores that are not convenient or waiting to buy their favorite brands until they go on sale.
These are the people who will respond to a limited-time call to action and are willing to experiment with lower-value brands. If you can offer them the same service at a lower price in this climate, they are likely to take a chance on you, and will stick with you as long as you can deliver.
This group loves their brands but is far more likely these days to do extensive research before buying at the best price they can find. The Internet makes price comparison easier than ever. This group can be attracted by promises of better quality, meaning products last longer and so cost less over the long term, even when the initial outlay is higher. Messages that show brand comparisons and provide clear product data will catch their interest.
As the Internet becomes just another way to connect, people of all ages are beginning to see no difference between visiting an online store and driving to the mall. Online shopping has hit the mainstream and these customers need to be recognized and marketed to in both settings in a seamless experience. This makes a brand more personal, in the same way that Mom is available on instant message as well as at Sunday night dinner. Recognition and personalization, such as loyalty cards and PURLS, will help you connect with them.
Gimme Some Sugar
Just as during the Great Depression, sales of some products have remained fairly stable while others like clothing and entertainment have taken a nose-dive. Big-ticket and non-essential purchases are being delayed or abandoned. People will spend on essentials and low-cost things that make them feel better, like beauty products. Things that improve the home, like Internet, cleaning products and food to cook, are also popular as people are spending more time on their sofas. Getting your products into one of these categories will help sales now. Offer small feel-good novelties that quickly become an affordable luxury.
About the Author
Joanna Fletcher is a netizen who has lived, worked, and played in virtual space for most of her life. Her entrepreneurial flair is topped only by her tolerance for failure.