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Beyond the 99 cent store- re-thinking marketing for the value consumer

September 21, 2011

Much has been written in recent week’s about America’s shrinking middle class and it seems that there are fast becoming two target audiences; an affluent group and then those trying to make the most of the limited budgets they have.

While it’s easy to imagine what the affluent consumers want, it’s more challenging to re-imagine the world for the value consumer. It’s likely for this end of the market, consumption will be transformed and that new models might emerge.

One serious contender in this space is the so called area of Collaborative Consumption- which is in essence built around the shared economy. It’s about people having the opportunity to make additional funds from the things and spaces they own and for the value consumer to get access to them for a fraction of the cost of buying the item outright.

We can see obvious examples of this in the marketplace like – Airbnb, Zipcar and all the other car sharing services.

For brands used to selling, rather than sharing it’s going to be tough for them to get their heads around the idea of not selling, but renting out time or even selling their products for groups to share.

Another area of opportunity for brands is to think more closely about re-use and used, while this concept is currently not on the radar screen of big corporations we saw a good example when Patagonia got involved with E-Bay to “brand” and promote their used products on the site. While this idea fits perfectly with the philosophy of the brand, it’s also a great way for Patagonia to connect with value and frugal elements in the marketplace.

Finally, there’s also the idea to sell and package things that eliminate excess- if a person only wants two eggs, rather than dozen, or one serving of dry dog food, why shouldn’t be able to buy them that way? Something, ironically, many global brands have been doing in the developing world.

In summary, marketing to this new class of consumer isn’t just about value, it’s trying to imagine new products and services that can fit their budget and beyond that, to think about consumption in an entirely new way.

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