Responding to Monday's column on opportunistic ads, reader Julie Smith Riley forwarded to me the Sept. 18, 2001, edition of an online Web-marketing newsletter that I think is worth a moment of attention.
The newsletter comes from something called CyberAtlas, described as "the Web marketer's guide to online facts." One focus of yesterday's edition of the CyberAtlas newsletter: "Marketing to Consumers in Crisis."
"The events of last Tuesday," it begins, "certainly created more uncertainty in an economy that was already on shaky footing." This reasonable observation quickly segues to practical advice for the marketing professional, much of it apparently gleaned from the president of Unity Marketing Inc. "Consumers in crisis are consumers under stress," this person observes. "When men get stressed, they go to bars, and women go shopping. Our research finds a substantial amount of U.S. household spending is driven by emotional, not physical, needs. This is largely the realm of discretionary spending. In the face of crisis, women, who do the bulk of American households' shopping, will continue to buy for emotional satisfaction, but their buying behavior will change."
A few paragraphs on, things get a little more specific:
Unity Marketing expects this holiday season to be strong as consumers will crave the comfort and reassurance of family holiday traditions. For companies that market indulgence-type products, they can expect their businesses to be particularly vibrant. Now is not the time to raise prices, but to look at ways to engineer products or find new suppliers in order to offer more indulgence value for a lower price. Promotions that focus on delivering more to the consumers, such as two-for-the-price-of-one or buy-two-get-one-free, are on target for today.
Consumers will also crave the comfort of traditions, so there will be new demand for products that support family traditions, such as Christmas and Santa ornaments and decorations, tabletop and dinnerware for family get-togethers. Back-to-basic toys will give parents a chance to get down on the floor and play with their kids. Suddenly "Made in America" is a much more potent positioning statement, as buying American now is a patriotic duty. Nostalgia-themed products that hearken back to a better, simpler time and greeting cards may also be in demand.
Now, look. I know the show must go on. I know this newsletter is intended for marketing pros, not the general public, and that marketers have to continue being marketers no matter what the circumstances. I know that in the grander scheme of things it would be good if people do not start refusing to spend any money at all. I know that, in America, the consumer has a role to play.
But really. "Suddenly 'Made in America' is a much more potent positioning statement"? The best I can say about this is that maybe it's evidence of things getting back to normal.