I don’t care what economists, experts and business gurus are saying or predicting, the truth is no matter what the economy does – whether it goes up or goes down – your customer has forever changed and that change impacts you and your business.
Economists, reporters and our politicians keep talking about the state of the economy and the lack of consumer confidence; as if they are promising once the economy bounces back so will the consumer. Well, in my opinion nothing could be further from the truth. The biggest shift to have happened in the last three years has not been in the consumers’ wallets but rather in their minds.
When the economy started to struggle in late 2008, so did the consumer. Unlike other downturns in the economy, this one was different. At first, consumers slowly waited for the economy to bounce back; when that first bounce took longer than expected, the first change in the consumer mindset took hold. When that bounce was far less impressive than expected, consumers got more cautious. The more uncertain things got with the economy, the more consumers started taking matters into their own hands.
Realizing they could not control the economy, they focused on what they could control: their approach to managing and spending their money. Consumers may have been impacted differently by this economy; some lost jobs or experienced lower salaries or wages; some were not financially impacted at all; but no matter their experience, they all shared one thing in common: how they began to think about and how they began to spend money.
Research study after research study shows that young or old, consumers and their spending habits have greatly changed. This economy is uncertain, and the constant fluctuations have created a more cautious consumer. In addition, globalization, advancements in technology and increased competition have put the consumer in control of the buying cycle.
They are calling the shots; they can buy what they want, whenever they want it, and from whomever they want it. This makes the products and services we as business owners offer mere commodities — but how we offer them is our competitive edge. This is what I like to refer to as a Trust & Value Economy.
Consumers in this new, uncertain economy are willing to spend money, but trust and value are the true return on investment they are looking for, and return on investment they want. The commodity is your product; your competitive advantage is the trust you build, the value you convey and the relationship you build. That is what is hard to find in this economy and that is what consumers are willing to pay for.
Gone are the days of overspending and abundance. Our society has changed and frugal is in. We’re still spending money but we’re choosy about where and with whom we spend it. Given the opportunity, many consumers will opt for quality and value over quantity and price.
There is success to be found in the” Trust & Value Economy” for business owners, professionals, sales leaders and organizations that are passionate about service, passionate about their customers and passionate about the product or service they offer. Stay tuned in 2012 as each month we reveal tips, strategies, techniques and ideas for how to navigate these waters, and understand the shifts to give you just what you need to master success in “The Trust & Value Economy”.