Friday, November 4, 2011

Predicting the Post-Recession Consumer Trends

I read an interesting quote this week from Aldi President, Jason Hart: “Discount shopping isn’t about income. Discount shopping is about saving money.” At surface, it may not seem so interesting. But as we think about the booming value retailers (Dollar, Aldi, etc.), we must ask ourselves why and if our products, services, or respective businesses are affected by this trend. Even if not by value retailers, it’s likely that your business has been affected by the changing consumer landscape.

As fuel prices rose to historic highs and incomes remained level, many shoppers were forced to reevaluate their grocery trips and spending. More actively, shoppers began seeking value: Store brands were not second-on-the-shelf, but were discovered to offer a good product at a great price. What’s more, people started turning to the Internet and their smartphones for better shopping.

At the brink of this paradigm shift, market researchers became more important than ever for new-age marketing. When the Consumer Confidence Index began slipping into somewhat unfamiliar territory, we were forced to change our marketing messages that once influence shoppers to choose our brand. The word became value.

For consumers seeking value, Internet searching, in-store mobile use, and coupon usage rose. During that time, it was our responsibility to notice and monitor these trends of new consumerism and consequently provide the information to build new strategies.

So what about now?

It’s still our responsibility, as market researchers, to understand the economy and how it is affecting our shoppers. More importantly, we should be working to understand the residual affects of a damaged economy in the long-run: Will shoppers ever return to their old ways of frivolous spending? For those that found store brands, will they again find national brands? What are the new technologies that are influencing shoppers before, during, and after their purchases of our brand?

During your time in Orlando at The Market Research Event, you can expect to learn more about shopper marketing, the new mindsets of shoppers, and new technologies that will help market researchers to be more well-prepared in preparing for the current and future consumer trends!

Garrett McGuire (@GJMcGuire) is a Consumer Insights Analyst for a major retailer. His areas of focus are advertising research, brand equity, and providing consumer insights for many marketing initiatives. Prior to his current position, he was a graduate student at Michigan State University where he began his blog, "The Journal of a mAD Man," that explains the theories and methods of advertising.

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