Marketing in a Post-Recession Economy

Oct 9, 2011   //   by John Tabita   //   Business, Marketing  //  No Comments

Is the recession officially over? Most economists are saying that the recession ended somewhere between July and September of 2009. Maybe I missed something. Or maybe economists just make good money. How does that saying go…? “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.”

Just in case we didn’t get the memo and the recession really is over, here’s the first item on the post-recession agenda.

Marketing strategy and research firm Decitica has released a study [pdf] called Marketing to the Post-Recession Consumers. They say that consumers have been profoundly effected by what’s been been labelled “The Great Recession.” According to the study, marketing strategies that do not fully recognize this won’t be effective in a post-recession world.

Personally, I’m a little skeptical. It reminds me of the mid-90’s when everyone was saying, “The Internet changes everything.” The dot-com implosion of 2001 reminded us that this really wasn’t entirely true.

While the jury is still out (at least in my mind) on whether consumer behavior has been permanently altered by their recessionary experience, the report does make some valid points about how consumers might behave in the forseeable future. Any business owner, saleperson or marketer will do well to take heed.

The report breaks consumers down into four distinct categories:

Steadfast Frugalists

  • 20% in the population.
  • 6 in 10 are women.
  • Composed of people from all age groups; however, fewer from Gen X and Gen Y.
  • Steadfast Frugalists are the most disciplined in their behaviors and seriously committed to self-restraint.
  • It is likely that many of these individuals deemed themselves tightwads even before the recession.
  • Marketers will find this group to be the most challenging.

Involuntary Penny-Pinchers

  • 29% in the population.
  • 6 in 10 are women.
  • Over-represented by people in their 30s and 40s.
  • Involuntary Penny-Pinchers are the most severely affected—financially and emotionally—by the recession.
  • Their new-found frugality for the most part has been forced upon them. Half have not saved any money for emergencies.
  • Spending for a sizeable proportion (38%) in this group exceeded their income last year, indicating that they were not that disciplined to begin with.
  • Marketers will find this group to be quite challenging to influence mainly due to their lower/diminished capacity to spend.

Pragmatic Spenders

  • 29% in the population.
  • 6 in 10 are men.
  • Over a third of the people with greater than $75,000 HHI are in this group.
  • Over-represented by people in their 60s, and from the Northeast and West.
  • Pragmatic Spenders have the greatest capacity—both financial and psychological—to willfully resurrect their past spending patterns.
  • Their approach to spending is tempered with caution; they have cut back and are engaging in thrift like others but seem less troubled by the recession.
  • Pragmatic Spenders will be the most attractive to marketers given their above-average financial wherewithal.

Apathetic Materialists

  • 22% in the population.
  • Slightly more men than women.
  • Over-represented by people in their 20s (Gen Y).
  • Apathetic Materialists are less perturbed by the recession. They are the least changed in terms of their spending habits and future intentions.
  • It is likely that their relative indifference springs from their life stage—more younger, single people with limited disposable income at the moment.
  • Apathetic Materialists will be an attractive target for youth-oriented marketers.

What do you think? Are consumers are suffering from Post-Recession Stress Disorder? Or have you seen your customer’s and client’s buying habits begin returning to normal?

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John Tabita

Marketing Evangelist and Blogger at SitePoint.com. Digital Strategy Director at HainesLocalSearch.com. Passionate about helping people and businesses reach their fullest potential and become wildly successful.

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