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posted by Cathy Monetti Dec 22,2008 @ 05:35AM

Crisis of Confidence

I have spent a great deal of time in the past six months considering our country’s economic situation and dissecting it on many levels: as a business owner, as a marketer, as a consumer myself. Like many in our country, I wake up in the morning wondering whether this is merely a crisis of confidence (maybe there is good news today that will change everything!) or if there is something deeper, more terrifying, less influenceable, at its core. This is particularly relevant as we study consumer behavior from our vantage point here in Columbia, South Carolina. Are our assumptions accurate? Can we offer insights and marketing counsel that will be meaningful?

With a cup of coffee and a bit of holiday weekend joy to carry into this Monday morning, I scan the headines of the NY Times, and there it is:

Headline: A Reeling City Is a Snapshot of Economic Woes
Dateline: COLUMBIA, S.C.

And so our RIGGS homeplace and the prism through which we watch the economy twist and turn is now the Pick City of this new economy. The article states:

This city in the center of South Carolina is an ideal listening post. According to a range of indicators assembled by Moody’s — from job growth to change in household worth — this metropolitan area came closer than any other to being a microcosm of the nation over the last decade.

I guess we do have a pretty good seat, after all.

posted by Cathy Monetti Dec 08,2008 @ 10:15AM

The Bling Thing is Over

Those of us engaged in marketing in the United States suddenly find ourselves in a precarious situation. We have helped create a false economy based on a belief perpetuated by our industry: the more you buy, the happier you are.

In fact, our work has been so effective that consumer appetite has become insatiable. Americans buy with abandon, chasing fulfillment while paying little attention to the broader impact of the purchasing decisions we make. And the consequences have become dire, from the credit crisis that is crumbling our economy, to the energy costs of transportation, to the environmental consequences of manufacturing and disposal.

But this is not an essay on the evils of consumerism. It is, instead, the opening lines of a conversation about real and lasting change taking place in the marketplace. Consumers are changing their behavior because they have no other option; as we move to a cash economy, purchasing decisions will be made based on need. With no access to credit, and with existing debt to repay, real people will be severely limited in what they can purchase. And while that reality may seem to be the North Star for business planning today, here’s the more significant consideration. We believe the change in consumer behavior will result in a shift in values. And that, as they say, changes everything.

posted by Kevin Smith Dec 08,2008 @ 08:00AM

The Invisible Middle Ground

There is no more middle ground. As a society, we seem addicted to dramatic shifts. The White House will soon be trading hands from the son of an American dynasty to the son of a Kenyan immigrant. We downsize from the excess of a Cadillac Escalade to the economy of a Toyota Prius. We go from a never wait, charge it now mentality to a near halt in non-essential purchases.

While not entirely illogical, such radical shifts are proof that consumer decision-making, regardless of the prevailing economic condition, remain emotionally driven. The desired personal benefit may change, say from status to financial security, but the core driver is and will always remain, human emotion.

What does change are the ingredients that form and contribute to these emotions. The emotional epiphany takes longer to construct. This is the concept behind considerism. Economic recession tends to postpone and prolong decision-making (consideration time). This is obvious when you think about major purchases – who’s buying a car right now? It still holds true on a much smaller level as well, even the impulse-buy in the grocery store check out line. That slight hesitation, perhaps even putting the item back, all takes more time.

Marketers need to use that time to their advantage. Consider this:

  • There are more factors than ever influencing decisions, i.e. socially conscious company mission, organic, green, etc.
  • There are more conduits of information than ever before.
  • There is more peer influence on consumer choice than ever before. (Angie’s List has moved from handymen to doctors.)

As a result, it is now even more crucial that marketers continue to message after the initial introduction advertising provides. Of course, this is not a new concept, but yesterday’s common neglect is today’s fatal flaw.

posted by Riggs Partners Dec 02,2008 @ 08:08AM

Healing Species Video

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