A recent consumer study reported in Brandweek confirms many of my suspicions.

“As the economic downturn has persisted, marketers have comforted themselves with the thought that a lot of pent-up demand must be accumulating. But a survey issued this month by Deloitte and the Harrison Group gives reason to wonder whether this reservoir of demand actually exists.”

Guess again. “From a marketer's point of view, one of the poll's findings is particularly alarming in this regard: 65 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, 'Even though I am spending less on products now, it doesn't feel like I'm sacrificing that much.'" Uh, oh. . .

Recap of findings: The Percentage of People Saying They Are More or Are Less:

61% are more price-conscious.

42% are more smart; they feel good about themselves because they’re spending more carefully.

42% are more frugal.

23% are buying less to please themselves.

24% are less new product focused.

31% are less brand loyal.

43% are less impulsive in making purchases.

Here’s the kicker: When a significant percentage of respondents voice these kinds of opinions, they’re not likely going to be returning to their former free-spending days anytime soon. In fact, 44% agreed that: “I can’t believe how wasteful I used to be when I shopped.”

Also of note: Just one-third of these respondents felt they’re sacrificing when purchasing store brands vs national brands. 80% agreed that: “I believe most store brands are manufactured by the traditional national brands.”

The upshot: “It’s not that the economy has made people indifferent to brands. Rather, it has made them more discriminating about brands.” A whopping 75% of respondents stated that this economy has helped them discern which brands matter to them, and which ones don’t.

This is a challenge to marketers and brand managers. The question they must answer is: “How can we become one of the all-too-few brands that matter in a marketplace that has likely changed for good?”


Have you changed your spending habits due to the economy?

Will you continue to spend more cautiously, even as the economy eventually improves?

Do you agree that many brands don’t matter to you now? What about the brands that do: are you loyal to specific brands still?

I’d love to get your feedback.

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Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni