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Consumers Spending Less on the Nonessentials

ad-age-consumer-spend.jpgDuring the last two weeks, you have to work pretty hard to find the bright spots in all the gloomy news -- my silver lining is that I have never been so happy to not have a 401k. But the steady drumbeat of economic crisis is forcing consumers to re-evaluate what they can and can't spend money on. Time to get (even more) worried.

A survey commissioned by Ad Age found that almost 80 percent of those surveyed have made changes in their buying habits, spending less on clothing, restaurants, travel -- even text messages. Worse, a majority of those surveyed were pessimistic about the chances for a economic rebound.

As we've already seen, auto spending is in complete freefall, which also means that outfits like WPP, which has always counted on that money flow, are in serious trouble. But it looks like that was just a precursor to a larger decline.

With the downturn, advertisers are going to need to refocus campaigns on things like affordability. Those pitching big-ticket items may simply be up the creek -- it looks like consumers, for at least the near future, aren't willing to shell out for huge purchases. Even worse, the tightening credit market means that for many, even if they were so inclined, won't be able to avail themselves as easily to financing plans for the plasma TV or new car.

So is there any good news to be found in all this gloom? According to Ad Age, yes:

There was something of a silver lining for marketers trying to figure out how to proceed during a time sure to be marked by a focus on savings. The OMD study tested consumer feelings about advertising and found that 81% said advertisers need to continue to communicate about their products during a recession, adding that they'll be more receptive to cost-savings messages and products that are positioned as investments.
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