By Tara Lane, Staff Writer
“The recession has been a painful ‘rite of passage‘ that has caused people to re-evaluate themselves and what they want out of life,” said Robbie Blinkoff, founder of the Baltimore-based Context-Based Research Group. Without question, the recession taught us early on that “less is more.” In our “want vs. need” world, we’re now focusing less on wants and more on needs – even if we have the means to get those “wants.” Individuals and businesses alike are maximizing their efforts through eliminating clutter, using digital tools to get the best bang for their buck and fitting more education into less time.
Three-Year Degrees – As college costs continue to rise in both the private and public sectors, many students are seeking a unique solution such as graduating college in three years or less. Though they sacrifice one less year of growth, education and friendships, students are saving tens of thousands of dollars by opting out of a fourth year and pushing themselves harder in the time they do have on campus. In the end, students are able to get their foot in the door at an earlier age, or take some extra time off for travel or graduate school preparation. “It’s not just another year they don’t have to pay; it’s also another year to earn,” said Barbara Brittingham, director of the higher education commission for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges told the Boston Globe. Colleges and universities are making this easier, offering specific programs and graduation plans for students seeking this route.
Comparison Shopping – Electronics giant Best Buy is well known for its Price Match Guarantee Policy. Best Buy matches the price of competitors if it is less than offered by the big box store. Now, more stores are offering similar deals; Sears, Lowes, Walmart and Staples are just a few examples of other retailers with price matching policies. These retailers help consumers be maximizers, and encourage them to do their homework to find the best deals. Online sites such as Snipi and NexTag help consumers find the best online deals, so nobody has to visit hundreds of sites to find the lowest price. Snipi has a convenient iPhone app, for easier decision-making wherever you are.
Beyond Clutter — We are so consumed by stuff. Before MP3 players, we had hundreds of CDs, tapes and for some, records. More and more consumers are buying experiences more than just stuff. For instance, Lala.com offers an alternative to buying tons of CDs, or the Kindle offers a clutter-free alternative to books. In many ways, de-cluttering is cathartic and liberating as we seek to maximize the space around us.
- More than 17 million people per month use NexTag to research, compare, and save on products and services online
- A recent survey done by Harris Interactive found that 37 percent of adults say they will increase their use of coupons in a recessionary period.
- Pay-as-you-go cell phone provider Boost Mobile recently began to offer an unlimited plan with a flat monthly fee; the change brought in more than 600,000 customers in less than three months.
Luxury is not always about price. Sometimes luxury can be about freedom; freedom from clutter. It can be about a free shared experience instead of status bling. For instance, the music site last.fm provides free radio with premium music coupled with community sharing. Users can discover new music and share opinions about it with other like-minded aficionados.
Now, we get more joy in saving the money we have than in spending it. Consumers have become more in tune with the state of the economy and their personal economies as well. Brand strategist Matt Sinacori, “The biggest mainstream trend I see is Sustained Frugality. Coming out of the recession, the notion of doing more with less is no longer a short-term survival mechanism, but a sustainable mantra for most. As Americans try to pay down their ‘personal balance sheets,’ you’ll see fewer displays of overt overindulgence … hip-hop stars raving about their bling, yachts, and private jets will lose their appeal. Even the affluent will be more pragmatic with their personal spending in an era where it’s socially acceptable for anyone of any means to be seen shopping at Walmart or driving a Hyundai Sonata.” The recession has made “value” fashionable. Consider Target’s ad targeted towards “frugalistas.”
- Craigslist expands beyond local communities and connects buyers and sellers from around the country
- Walmart, known for its low prices will team with well-known brands to offer luxury products at discounted prices
- Retail stores will offer convenient in-store comparison shopping stations, challenging all stores to lower prices and become more competitive
Who’s On Trend
- Best Buy
Image by Tanya from Stock.Xchng