What Post-Recession Behavior Means for Marketers Today


By Michael Francesco Alioto, Vice President, Global, Gongos, Inc.

Given the magnitude of the current recession, there continues to be ongoing discussion about what the post-recession consumer will look like. Will consumers return to pre-recession spending and continue to stimulate new growth in the near-future economy? Or will they fundamentally change their habits, ultimately altering the next stage of national and global economic development?

A majority of economic analysts and futurists perceive that we are in the midst of a fundamental paradigm shift in our economic behavior. They suggest that similar to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the current mentality and habits of consumers will indeed change, resulting in long term attitude and behavior modifications that likely will give rise to an economy less dependent on consumer purchasing as a stimulus for economic growth.

The Consumer-Purchasing Model

It has long been thought that consumer spending, and the purchasing of both common disposable and durable goods, was a main driver of economic growth and business development. Many manufacturers and retail outlets have depended on robust consumer spending as a main impetus for economic growth.

The current recession, however, has placed us on a different path—one that is more global in nature. At the same time it also has exposed major weaknesses in the domestic economy as it relates to consumer purchasing habits and lifestyles. Massive governmental intervention has become a critical tool in the stimulation of future economic growth, both in the United States and global markets. However the real question is whether the global economy can depend on consumer spending to drive economic growth. This was a fundamental condition of the pre-recession economy, but will it return and to what extent?

The Grounding of Consumers

In conjunction with macro-level lifestyle changes (e.g., the severity of unemployment, particularly among Boomers and educated sectors, as well as insecurity about global economic performance), it is the “new” consumer that will challenge manufacturers and retail stores alike as we move into the post-recession period. This may be the difference between a more robust economic recovery and a prolonged economic downturn. Several key shifts in the mindset of the consumer have already begun to take place:

While we cannot change consumer purchasing habits or predict the post-recession economy, a number of analysts—ourselves included—offer the
following recommendations for marketers as we all move toward post-recession strategic planning:

While the next wave of economic activity associated with the post-recession consumer may be fundamentally different from current realties, manufacturers and retailers should not just strive to stay alive, but with pioneering planning and thought, they can actually flourish. This will be both the challenge and opportunity in the way we conduct business in a post-recession environment. One day as we look back on this
era, we may say that we didn’t just survive the next great depression, but that we forged the next great opportunity.

As published in Marketing News.