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The Ten Buyer Behaviour Trends in a Recession


I had lunch with Jules Starck today. She’s the smartest researcher I know, but she’s off to India for three weeks, so I thought I’d better pick her brain before she left, just in case she ate a bad curry and never returned. Jules is the Insight Manager at De Pasquale and she spends her days dispensing wisdom – the kind you want to hear. Today, I’m pleased to announce, was particularly fruitful. It turns out that Jules was doing some research into buyer behaviour in a recession and she’d written up the findings in a very easy to digest document, complete with catchy titles. You’ll already be familiar with the Lipstick Effect and possibly the Aldi Effect, but The Mr Burns Effect will be new to you, as will the others on the list. I’d link to Jules’s blog, Twitter Profile or LinkedIn page, but she doesn’t have any of those. Further proof that you can be under 30, smart and socially aware without socially networking your arse off.

The ten buyer behaviour trends in a recession are:

  • The Aldi effect – finding cheaper retail outlets to purchase the same things, rather than not purchasing at all
  • The lipstick effect – purchasing items of smaller value in place of more expensive luxury items as personal treat
  • The armchair effect – consumers look to their homes as the new entertainment hub; triggers home upgrades as they to make houses ‘entertainment’ ready
  • The rain-check effect – high value purchase decisions, or high risk decisions, will be put on hold, as consumers look to postpone any non-essential purchases to more settled economic times
  • The Mr. Burns effect – consumers reduce charitable donations and ethical behaviours in the face of economic downturn
  • The herd effect – even those consumers with financial stability will modify behaviours, influenced by the behaviour and panic of those around them
  • The DIY effect – consumers will start opt for self-service rather than do-it-for-me, as decreasing discretionary spend forces them to cut back on non-essential services
  • The Real Money effect – consumers avoid using voluntary credit as they fear committing to a future debt i.e. Will I have the money to pay off that sofa in 24 months time?
  • The optimism effect – consumers will look to companies or brands with fun/light-hearted personalities that relieve the temporary doom & gloom of life
  • The Calvin effect – Consumers look to reign in their hedonistic spending patterns in favour of a more conservative approach to their money (Calvin the protestant reformist, not the Klein)
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7 Responses to The Ten Buyer Behaviour Trends in a Recession

  1. Nathan Bush says:

    What about ‘The Terrroist Effect?’ – people know there is a potential danger out there but it hasn’t reached them yet. They are alert, not alarmed.

  2. Nathan Bush says:

    Sorry that should have been ‘The Terrorist Effect’

  3. Zoe Scaman says:

    Do you think this points to the rise of the shopping comparison sites like those in the UK?

  4. I think you’d be puffin’ muffins to think otherwise Zoe 🙂

  5. what about the in denial effect, where consumers continue to spend blindly where they spent before

  6. @Kate Richardson – I think that’s called the ‘mattgranfield effect’, just ask my bank manager!

  7. My old man reckons you should always buy shares in grog companies when times are tough cause people drink more when they are depressed (apparently)

    The armchair effect also applies to the purchase of food as we see the sales of chocolate increase as more people opt to stay home in front of the TV. So then it would also apply to grog.

    There may be a good opp for a grog brand to focus on the Aldi and Optimism effects e.g. provide a cheap grog outlet/brand that has a fun/light-hearted personality and which promotes staying in and having a drink

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