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Painting a bleak picture – bleak, but not hopeless


“Just 1-in-4 consumers expect their financial position to improve in the coming year.” That’s the way SymphonyIRI Group saw it in its recently released report “The Downturn Shopper: Buckled in for a wild and crazy ride.” Among the highlights — or lowlights — of how consumers are responding to the pressure:

  • 49% visit the hair salon/spa less often;

  • 40% are trying fewer new products;

  • 36% are going to the doctor less and self-treating more — 10% are using more at-home dental products, like whitening strips, to avoid the dentist;

  • 35% are using more at-home beauty treatments; and

  • 33% are sharing more products.

“Consumers are shortening their grocery lists and trimming budgets by sharing products, such as shampoo and toothpaste, rather than buying ‘special order’ brands for individuals within the household,” SymphonyIRI noted. They’re also trying to make the personal care products they do buy last longer by mixing product with water, using product less often or in lesser amounts, and often just buying less:

  • 55% are trying to make personal care products last longer;

  • 43% are trying to make beauty products last longer;

  • 37% are looking for multisymptom OTC remedies to avoid buying more than one item; and

  • 35% are trying to use fewer OTCs.

Taken together with our cover story by senior editor Michael Johnsen, it paints a pretty bleak picture of the economy — bleak, maybe, but not hopeless. The best retailers and brand marketers will be able to adjust their vision to find the subtleties that exist in the gray areas that divide consumers rather than trying to target the black-and-white distinctions.

From the Blogs

Last month, introduced “From the Blogs,” a hot new content feature anchored by expert blogs from key industry veterans and opinion leaders. From the Blogs creates an interactive forum for DSN users to become active participants in the debate.

This month in From the Blogs, 30-year retail vet Dave Van Howe, VP and general manager for MPG Drug/Crossmark — and resident customer optimization expert — talks about the challenges new products face in breaking through, and the three critical things every supplier needs to know if they plan to get a retail buyer’s attention.

And anchoring our new “UpMarketing” blog, Hamacher Resource Group VP and co-owner Dave Wendland talks about the four critical consumer activation strategies with the greatest influence on purchasing behavior.

Got an idea for a new DSN From the Blogs topic? Contact Rob Eder at [email protected].

Rob Eder is the editor in chief of The Drug Store News Group, publishers of Drug Store News, DSN Collaborative Care and Specialty Pharmacy magazines. You can contact him at [email protected].


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