How to connect with people during a recession


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We’ve lived through a period where people constantly advanced: There was a unique sense of momentum, technology made amazing advances, new opportunities to communicate, be employed and make money seemed to pop up every day. There was no time looking back, just a constant rush to look ahead. We didn’t live in houses, we flipped them. We bought the BlackJack yesterday, just to replace it with the iPhone tomorrow. And the GPhone the day after. While we were living in the present, most of our attention was focused on the future.

Just like 9/11, the September 15 failure of Lehman Brothers came as a shock and each passing day made the world feel colder and the outlook on the world less optimistic: TED Spread, Libor, Layoffs, Bankruptcies, red numbers on CNBC and Bloomberg. People had to change from the advancing modality of the last 7 years to a retreat modality. People are not advancing anymore. Instead, they are focused on the here and now. Since most consumers are in a state of shock, they closed their wallets and started to treasure their current belongings. Their current job. Their current relationships. Their current home. In light of the onslaught of foreclosure news, your home has become the emotional center of your life. Home is where your family lives, home is where you have good times with friends, home is where you feel safe from red numbers and bad news.

For the foreseeable future, most people will be in the retreat mode. They will savor things, cherish relationships and use their home as the base camp for strategic advances into the outside world.

Pillsbury has understood this trend:

But they didn’t understand the real essence of retreat: Your home is not a magical place, it’s not the advertising world of Christmas where everybody smiles, the grandfather nods in agreement while smoking a pipe and the mother is knitting away. Home is a real place. It’s the place where you can be real. Where you can yawn out loud, where embarrassing things happen, where you can be yourself. That’s the essence of Ikea’s Home campaign:

The humanization of the retreat mode is where the real game is. Combine this with a social media/conversational marketing strategy that allows people to feel at home with their friends/family through easy connections and solid brand platforms, and you have a real winner at hand.
The retreat mode is a scary thought for economists because the US economy is based on growth and consumption. But it shouldn’t be scary for marketers because we always have to connect with people in their current state of mind. Authentic. Human. Real.

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