2.16.2009

Let Them Eat Chocolate

Consumer behavior is infinitely fascinating, particularly during a recession-almost-depression like the one we're in now. While consumers lack the funds for (or perhaps are too afraid to spend on) substantial luxury purchases, the desire for a sense of luxury remains. One example I've heard several times is the lipstick phenomenon. (which I'm not sure is true for all lipstick manufacturers, but anyway...) When money is tight, women are hesitant to buy a pricey handbag. Understandable... But lipstick - - in many ways lipstick achieves an emotional reaction similar to that of a fancy handbag. Lipstick is glamorous. Lipstick is a luxury. Lipstick makes women feel special. But unlike handbags, lipstick is about 1/100 of the cost and even expensive lipsticks are, in comparison, a reasonable purchase at $25 a pop. Despite the significant dip in the market, Avon lipstick sales have more than doubled.

Apparently, this phenomenon extends to chocolate. At a time when unemployment is rampant and it seems like no one is spending money on anything - apparently people are perfectly willing to throw down $8 for a chocolate bar...

The Sweet Payoff
, by Rob Walker, The New York Times

A few more interesting stats,
  • Restaurants are out, cooking at home is in: 10.7 million people visited allrecipes.com in November 2008 - the best traffic month ever for the world's top food site.
  • In 2008, 1.3 billion Americans visited the public library, a 10% increase since 2006. Sorry, Barnes & Noble...
  • Local YMCAs landed 700,000 new members last year, making their current numbers the largest in history. Seems people are finally telling the pushy gym salespeople peddling $200/month rates to take a hike...
Courtesy of Marie Claire.

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