retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Think of it as a perfect consumer storm.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “the twin currents of an economic downturn and rising concern about the environment are merging in a shift in consumer psychology. After a decade of conspicuous consumption, many middle- and upper-income Americans are no longer comfortable showing off $300 Gucci sunglasses and $8,000 Hermes Birkin bags. They are developing a distaste for extravagance that promises to affect spending on everything from cars and travel to electronics, fashion and household goods -- and to last at least as long as the recession.”

The message: It is cool to be cheap. Or at least thrifty. And green.

The Journal writes: “The shift began even before the credit markets broke down and the stock market plunged. Many Americans had already begun to question their ‘freewheeling consumption’ and move toward ‘a culture of responsibility,’ says J. Walker Smith, president of global trends researcher Yankelovich, a unit of the Futures Company. For many, he says, environmental concerns were an important factor in this shift.”

At the same time, new research by Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) suggests that more than 80 percent of the total U.S. adult population show some type of green motivation, offering what NMI calls “a target for green and eco-friendly products and services” that make sustainability “much more attractive” and increase “the imperative for businesses to engage with consumers of all types.”

KC's View:
This all makes sense from an academic point of view. But does it add up when applied to a real world situation?

Check out just such a scenario in our next story…