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Appealing to the New Consumer

Posted: July 22, 2010

A recent article from Kline & Company explains the leanings of today's consumer, providing valuable insight into what your clients are thinking and how they are dealing with this brave new world.

As our vantage point on the worst recession since the Great Depression takes shape in the collective rearview mirror, one thing is certain: consumerism has changed dramatically. The buy-now-pay-later, keep-up-with-the-Joneses mentality that once drove market dynamics has been largely replaced by a more frugal and practical consumer approach. Most economic experts agree that this more cautious behavior isn't likely to be thrown to the wind any time soon. Aside from scaled-back spending habits, other equally transformative forces have emerged over the last 18-24 months that could forever change the face of the consumer products market.

Amid the dark cloud of high unemployment, home foreclosures and the global credit crisis, a transformation has taken shape: The modern consumer has undergone a makeover of sorts. Driven partly by economic forces, but also by a greater awareness of what really matters, environmental issues and corporate responsibility, the post-recession consumer has adapted to the new economy. Certainly job losses have played a large role in shaping a more frugal consumer, but data from across the consumer products markets indicates that it's not just about the money. As consumers evolve, product marketers must keep a finger on the pulse of what's driving consumer behavior in order to rise above growing competition.

There's no place like home

Cutbacks on travel and dining out have driven a growing number of consumers to reinvest in their homes to make it a more welcoming and inviting space. Where families were once constantly on the go, the modern family has rediscovered the comfort of home, and the evidence has emerged in some fairly mature product categories.

Less dining out also meant more dishes to wash: unit sales of dish detergents increased more than 3%, with dollar volume growing 7.5%. Spotting an opportunity, many brand marketers not only increased their prices, but also reduced package sizes, forcing consumers to replenish their supply more often. In an effort to deliver even greater value, provide added benefits, and compete with the soft-hands leader Palmolive, Procter & Gamble even bolstered its dish brands with Olay moisturizer for added skin-softening.