* By Brett Slater and Kelly Slater
I guess it’s official now: We’re in a recession. Businesses are cutting back, and consumers are tightening their belts — maybe not going out to eat as often, or not treating ourselves to extravagances we once did. So does that mean no one’s buying ANYthing anymore? Obviously, not. We’re just being a little more conscious of what we spend our money on, and how we choose to enjoy our expenditures.
As consumers, we still want to spend money and have “stuff,” but lately, the media and “society” make us feel like we shouldn’t (or can’t), when in most cases, we can, but on a different scale. Perhaps we may have to skip the big Florida vacation in lieu of a vacation closer to home. Or maybe we go out to eat every two weeks instead of every Friday. But we still desire those simple pleasures.
Take these guys, for example. The Cigar & Smoke Shoppe is doing great business in spite of the flagging economy — or maybe because of it. For a couple bucks, you can sit in their store, in a big comfy recliner, in front of a fireplace with a great cigar, put your feet up, and enjoy a few minutes of relaxation and escape. A simple pleasure, indeed. And that’s how they market themselves in their advertising. “Come relax, put your feet up, and enjoy a great cigar.”
During economic slowdowns, many businesses opt to cut their advertising budget. Imagine! “Hey, things are slow out there. Let’s stop telling people to come see us!” In fact, you should be changing your message to suit the times, not eliminating the message altogether. If you’re a local hotelier, consider an ad that caters to the consumers in your own town, pitching a weekend or overnight getaway, rather than gearing your marketing to attract vacationers from out of town, or out of state. Spa owner? How ’bout offering 15-minute chair massages to people on their lunch breaks? Jewelry store? Maybe, rather than, “Buy a pair of earrings, and get a free cleaning,” you say, “Bring in your earrings for a free cleaning, and get a discount on your next purchase.” You may not make a sale at that moment, but you DO get ’em in the store, and you DO provide a small pleasure which they’ll talk about later.
When economic times are tough, consumers are looking for more and more of those small pleasures. Expenditures that aren’t considered “extravagant” won’t feel extravagant when purchased. So, if you tell your customers, “Yeah, it really is okay to spend your money on this [bar of soap, bottle of wine, dinner, etc.], because it’s a small indulgence, and it makes you feel great,” you’re giving them permission to continue to enjoy themselves.
And in return for giving them that small pleasure, you’ll have earned their future business, regardless of the economic climate.