Editors Take: 2010 Recovery Requires New Thinking
Consumers have gained greater ability to interact with one another’s boards of buyers in the form of product reviews, broader search capabilities (for the lowest price and/or best value) and, of course, the hot social media sites. It wasn’t that any of these options were brand-spankin’ new this year; it’s that their credibility shot through the roof.
But as we head into the home stretch of the holiday shopping season, we’re nearing another significant turning point: Consumers will either decide they’re ready to spend more lavishly on gifts again or, well … we won’t go into that other possibility.
I’m guessing there’ll be some improvement over 4Q ’08, but nothing drastic. There are too many out-of-work people out there, and too many others still afraid to disband their boards of buyers.
Regardless of how robust or soft this holiday season turns out, I do believe that next year, once the unemployment rate tops out and people get back to work, consumers will start buying again. They might even break up their buyer boards. But will this signify a return to normal? Hardly.
Consumers will continue to seek the lowest prices online. They’ll still demand value. And they’ll keep reading product reviews while communicating with one another through social media, texting and other online ways, some of which probably haven’t been invented yet.
The New Consumer Mind-set
Ryan Deutsch, vice president of strategic services and market development for StrongMail Systems, wrote a recent article for one of the e-newsletters put out by our sister publication, eM+C, where he said, “The social web is here to stay. Consumers will continue to turn to a variety of ‘influencers’ within their social networks when making purchase decisions.”
Marketers dependent on catalogs will be able to bump up their circulations a little, if they can afford it — perhaps even for prospecting if there are any good names left. Retailers will be able to open new stores. But it’ll take a whole new way of communicating to get consumers to buy from you.