Miss Management: The days of wine and hoses
January 18, 2010 | Galynn Nordstrom
All the business advice these days is all about how consumer attitudes have changed during the recession—and may stay changed. They say it’s becoming the “era of consequences,” in which consumers will pay much more attention to the long-term value of what they’re buying, as well as its long-term environmental and social consequences.
“Don’t assume a return to normal,” said Harvard Business School professor John Quelch in an article entitled “Marketing After the Recession.” “The longer and deeper the recession, the more likely consumers will adjust their attitudes and behaviors permanently. Their coping mechanisms may become ingrained and define a new normal. In addition, the competitive landscape will have changed … Listen closely to your customers and revise your market segmentation assumptions.”
I’m not buying any of it.
Who more than a Boomer homeowner with a crumbling infrastructure is the target market for many manufacturers these days? My hobby of graceful degradation can only go so far. This morning, I sent a rueful and marginally self-indulgent e-mail to a friend bemoaning the situation that despite the inescapable fact that my house has an upstairs bathroom in increasingly urgent need of attention from plumbers and electricians, and that it has been for the entire period of this recession, my first remedial outreach effort in 2010 was to order a case of Rioja from Grove Street Wine Brokers in Healdsburg, California, immediately followed by the purchase of a Powerball ticket at a nearby gas station..
Happily enough, my friend responded by saying: “Gas stations have restrooms if you need one. But they don’t have wine. I think your priorities are in order.”
My guess is that consumers will change their basic buying habits for just about as long as major financial institutions will follow President Obama’s mandate to pay taxpayers back for their billions in bailout money. Certainly there are long-term trends in consumer behavior, but I doubt that the recession itself will create any. Emphasizing the real value of the products and services you offer will still be the best marketing strategy.
In our March issue of Specialty Fabrics Review magazine, we’ve got an article scheduled on how to get media attention to help your promote your products to your customers. In the April issue, there will be an article on how to choose the right promotional tools for your marketing messages. Consumers are definitely using new ways to get product information—but their motivations to buy, and to choose one product over another, change much more slowly.
Once that case of wine arrives, the plumber’s next on my list.