Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The same old "new normal"?

Today I saw a study on "The New Affluents" and how they will be behave differently from previous generations of people with more dollars than sense.

According to this study, affluent Americans are now into self-expression, not status.  They will not buy anything to impress others because conspicuous consumption is out.  Brand choices will be guided by perceptions of quality and authenticity.

Sure.  If that's true we'd all be driving a Honda.

I cannot remember the last time I heard somebody admit in research that they are shallow and driven by what the Jones' think.  Seriously, did the researcher expect that in the midst of the Great Recession respondents would agree that conspicuous consumption is a personal priority?

I am wary of research that predicts that consumers will respond differently during this recovery than we did following previous recessions.  As I posted at the onset of this recession, the narrative of the "new normal" (i.e., grounded values, cocooning, authenticity, personal fulfillment) always comes to the forefront during a recession, only to be followed by new cars, new houses and designer baby buggies during the shiny, happy days that follow.  This has occurred after every recession since the early '80s.  Marketers that bet against deeply ingrained human needs tend to lose.

To be sure, what will be different in this recovery is the power of social and online media to make us smarter and more empowered consumers.  But don't be surprised if we once again experience what Faith Popcorn once described as "the pleasure revenge."

1 comment:

alangdell said...

Love the Honda comment. Interesting thing to look at might be the step up that products take when they come out of recession. Honda might be the go to car when times are tough, but when things start to get better you best believe things like leather seats, bluetooth audio and V6 engines start appearing, essentially making today's Honda's as similar to their cars of the 80s as an iPhone is to a Newton.

So yes, we all might be driving Honda's. But they'll be darn nice hybrid/lux package ones.