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Spend Shift – the new consumer October 19, 2010

Consumers have changed. The economic crisis caused more than a gut-check, it has caused a cultural shift on how we perceive value.

Last Thursday (Oct. 14, 2020) The Archer Group brought John Gerzema, co-author of Spend Shift to Wilmington, DE.  Archer started doing a speaker series called “What’s Now, What’s Next.” Gerzema was the 1st presenter at the 2nd installment of the series.  The premise of  his session – the economic crisis and the shared experience of losing our security net has changed the consumer. It will likely be a generational change. Gerzema and his co-author dive into what has changed and what the consumer of now (and likely the future) look like.

Wall Street has been bemoaning the lack of “C” in the GDP equation. Gerzema spells out pretty clearly that they should quit holding their breath – things have changed, big time. If businesses continue waiting the by-product will be an even longer recovery. Gerzema and D’Antonio (his co-author) spell out what’s different.

The book is not about marketing. There’s a fundamental shift happening that business visionaries need to wrap their heads around. Read the book or get to a conference where he’s speaking so you can figure out how to reposition your value to today’s buyers. Waiting for “normal” to return will kill you.

Consumers are interested in being approached differently. They see value fundamentally differently than they did 2 years ago. And they are willing to pay a premium for value that resonates in their life.

Here are my notes from Gerzema’s session:

  • Shift from mindless > mindful spending.
  • Spend shift trends are evident in 55% of Americans; across all education, age and economic categories.
  • Shift is not limited to Americans.
  • Decrease in trust.
  • Increase in desire for leadership.
  • Consumers believe corporations need to make society better.
  • Downtown Detroit is a scary place and yet is teaming with entrepreneurship; there is local micro-funding bringing new businesses to life.
  • People are creating their own local, sustainable eco-systems.
  • 39% of people believe an individual business can compete with big business.
  • “Don’t fence me in” attitudes – self reliance, resourcefulness were imperative in the absence of institutional security; they are sticking around.
  • “the Badge of Awesomeness” – being nimble, adaptable and thrifty score big with the new consumer.
  • People are willing to pay a premium for products/services from companies that contribute to their (the consumers) local community
  • People are redefining “asset” – dead-heading trucks’ empty trailer space is an asset to be leveraged, empty lot is a garden waiting to feed a neighborhood and supply a restaurant where there is no grocery store.
  • Customers want to see the struggles a business goes through.

There’s a lot I missed, if you were there please add your take-aways in Comments. Here’s a PDF of the tweet stream. (It’s unabridged, so you’ll have to wade through the duplication and retweets to find the nuggets.)

How can your business adapt to this new consumer? What are your ideas, let us know in comments.

Personal note:  many of the topics Gerzema discussed hit close to home. Greg and I both lost our jobs within 2 weeks of each other during the Great Recession.  Our family is markedly changed from the experience, just ask my kids. His conversation pointed out “it’s not just us.”