NACDS Webinar offers retailers strategies for surviving the downturn

NEW YORK Times, they are a’changing. Already, marketing and merchandising paradigms had been evolving or redefined on a constant basis over the past decade — baby boomers, Gen-Xers, Gen-Yers, tweens, (remember metrosexuals?), e-shoppers, etc.

And now there’s a new class of shopper to add to that list -- what Information Resources' Thom Blischok has coined as the downturn generation. It’s a shopper whose behavior is being transformed by the current state of the recession economy and the uncertainty around jobs. And while Blischok also identified two other still-key demographics in their own rights, those being baby boomers and Hispanics, there may be a little downturn generation in all of us.

It’s important only in as much as your competitors don’t pay any attention to that forever redefined consumer base. Because the fact is downturn generation shoppers who may be practicing frugality to a fault are real. They exist. And according to IRI’s consumer research, they will continue to practice those shopping behaviors they’re learning now long after the recession has transformed into recovery. Being aware of your shoppers’ needs and wants, and how they decide between the two, and molding a market plan to meet those needs and/or wants; well that’s just opportunity.

Separately, IRI also released last week some startling data that underscores that downturn generations shopping behavior -- 78% of both lower- and higher-income consumers believe private label products are typically of excellent quality. And that, combined with the downturn generation mindset, makes the counter-store-brand argument of “You get what you pay for,” a bit antiquated.

For retailers, that means there’s opportunity to increase their private-label penetration from below the 25% level at which it stands today. For branded-product suppliers, it means that innovation and differentiation that cannot be easily replicated is now even more crucial to the successful launch of a new product or line extension. Similarly, it’s also crucial that branded-product suppliers connect directly with those customer demographics noted above, because while the sale of national-brand equivalents may be on the rise, it’s with the brand that a consumer develops a strong emotional connection.

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