Prescriptions for sleeping pills were up seven percent in 2009 while antidepressants were up by 15 percent. In the wake of the recession, it looks like we are anxious and sleepless in America. But once we’ve rested and gotten our minds under control, we’re still buying high end goods. Sales of luxury retailer Hermes’ leather goods were up almost 22 percent. Upscale Asian themed food retailer P.F. Chang saw sales increase by 38 percent while Apple sales were up by 47 percent. So says a recent analysis by the Ogilvy and Mather, an advertising and public relations firm. Still at the end of the analysis it wasn’t easy to truly define and predict anything about American consumer behavior.
Like racehorses at the starting gate, it seems that consumers are ready for the economy to improve so they can get on with spending without extensive analysis. But at the same time, when asked, they are likely to speak of a new found inner strength and a reliance on quality of life beyond money. Upwards of 90 percent are using coupons, shopping discount sales and buying store brands. But 60 percent of females said that they’ve bought something on a whim. While many cut back on everything from restaurants to expensive coffee, the analysis shows that in many cases it’s more of a tradeoff than an outright cut. No one gives up the latte forever.
On the up side, consumers have given up greed, gluttony and pride. They’re kinder and gentler with their words and deeds. They are focusing on healthier habits such as cooking at home and going for walks with their friends – we don’t know for sure that it’s walks with their friends but they’re fitter, trimmer and some are smoke-free. Even with smaller incomes, savings are up. The folks at Ogilvy refer to this unpredictable state of affairs as “disequilibrium.” Marketers should remember American consumers are being more mindful and analytical. Meanwhile, “wrath, sloth and lust,” are on the upswing. Go figure.
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