The current recession is on everyone’s minds right now – business leaders, politicians, marketers and consumers alike. Constant reminders of economic doom in our professional and personal lives have clearly changed the way we behave. Consumers are shopping differently. They are acting more frugal, researching each purchase and avoiding impulse buys. At this point, this change is old news.
But when our economy returns to its normal, pre-crisis state, will shoppers’ behavior revert as well?
As referenced in a recent Ad Age article, this issue is on the mind of many marketers. According to the article, this recession has had a much bigger impact on people than the last big crash in 1987. People really fear for the future. Thanks to vanishing retirement funds, people are being forced to work much longer than they had ever anticipated. In fact, 40% of people over 55 are currently in the workforce – a 10 year high, according to Barron’s.
As a result, people are re-thinking about what’s important to them and, in a sense, returning to more traditional values. Their attitudes may be the same – they still want that new car – but they are behaving differently – they aren’t necessarily buying it. People are being much more practical and focusing on saving for the future.
I believe, however, that the American consumer’s mindset is not changed forever. The frivolous spending and over-the-top consumerism that was prevalent over the last 30 years may be gone for good, but people innately like to shop. Consumers will likely make more of an effort to find good deals on significant purchases, but I think that impulse shopping will continue to be a part of the American culture.
The current economic downturn may permanently impact American values and shopping behavior, but eventually consumers will return to some of their old ways.