Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Holiday Market Shift

We all hear what the media thinks about this holiday season. Most of their articles begin with the copy line… “Worst holiday season sales in the last XX years.” The XX number keeps getting bigger the longer the season lasts.

Oh well…the media does have a unique perspective of the world.

I had dinner last night with a friend of mine in the real estate business. He told me that he had spent part of the day buying the ingredients for a special dip he was taking to the RE/MAX holiday party.

Said it was kind of odd, but could be fun…in the past, RE/MAX had the event catered, but this year it was potluck and BYOB. RE/MAX was hosting the event at their offices and providing free soft drinks.

Wow.

Being the proverbial optimist, I do believe that what we are seeing is more than just a reactive response to the economy.

I genuinely believe that we are seeing a major market shift.

Clearly a couple of factors are here at work…

(1) The market has moved from a credit line dependency to a savings mandate. While the banks that have cut credit limits have driven part of this and part by customers that have filed Chapter 13, more of the change is driven by individuals who have realized that saving money just makes sense.

(2) GenXers are the driving force of the family market and they are rewriting the rules of the past. Remember that nearly half came out of divorced households and their “most married” stats support the fact that they are not going to do to their families what their parents did to them. As a result, they avoid the commercialization of a family event at all costs if it intrudes into their home cocoon.

(3) The oldest of the boomlet Millennium Generation that the Baby Boom produced will turn 30 in 2009 and the youngest will be turning 19. The cravings for the Toys “R” Us and Wal-Mart under-the-tree wrapped gifts are fading from the holiday stage-set. And the parents are celebrating the joys of the empty nest by carving out their own space where the kids are not part of the picture.

(4) Just as the populous has gone Green — both seeking and protecting what is real and genuine — there is a changing mindset regarding protection of other things from commercialization and development. For confirmation, go check out the latest sales figures of the brands that have elected this year to change the lyrics of Christmas carols rooted in worship services and replaced them with their sales pitch. (And to the copywriters that did this…get that resume and portfolio updated ASAP!)

(5) Simplicity and Convenience is in and Complexity is out. Go check out the store shelves that have been historically stocked with all the decorative chukkas in the Home Depots, Wal-Marts and CVS Pharmacies of the marketplace…notice how fewer shelves are stocked and how less complex is the inventory. Now…go check out the blogs, the print write-in editorials and the news network clips…do you see any stories of consumers complaining about the hardship economics that have taken away the decorative charm of the holidays?

There are some profound changes taking place that are we are witnessing right now and the impact of these changes extend well past December 25th 2008.

As I have been writing this, CNN.com posted a new headline story that features the death of the malls. The “in depth reporters” writing the story cite in the posting that “the recession is leaving more retail casualties in its wake.”

I bet that these are the same writers that hang out with the writer’s of yesterday’s editorial about how Global Warming is causing the coldest winters in recent times.

Those writers of the mall story are also probably straight and can’t see the fact that most of the malls sport that 80s design that isn’t retro cool…its just dated and dull. It’s that dullness combined with the craving for the old town square that has driven most “malls” built since 2000 to be in the outdoor townscape.

You know…with all the Emails and text messages that I get from friends and associates; I actually find interacting with others around a potluck dinner to be much more fun and real.

I’m excited about 2009…and 2010…and 2011… There’s changes taking place before us that will be the future drivers of brand success if brands are engineered around the consumers driving the changes!

So go home earlier, get into that kitchen and cook up your favorite dish, then come on over to our place and let’s kick off a potluck brain-session about all the cool opportunities that are opening up in the changing marketplace!

Happy Holidays…and hey…let’s have safe Journey!