Marketing to "Simplifiers"

Last Updated Oct 20, 2008 9:12 AM EDT

The Takeaway: Quelch, a taxonomist of shoppers and a non-executive director of marketing services company WPP Group, identifies a new breed of consumer in his most recent Conversation Starters post: the Simplifier.
She finds herself surrounded by too much stuff acquired. She is increasingly skeptical in the face of a financial meltdown that it was all worth the effort. Out will go luxury purchases, conspicuous consumption, and a trophy culture. Tomorrow's consumer will buy more ephemeral, less cluttering stuff: fleeting, but expensive, experiences, not heavy goods for the home.
How did this new breed of consumer come about? Quelch explains that "the economic boom of the 1990s fueled consumption... transforming former luxuries into 'must-have' necessities." Case in point: in 2006, 35 percent of new homes exceeded 2,400 square feet in floor space. In 1986, 18 percent did.

Simplifiers look around at these vast houses crammed with stuff and think they have more things than they could possibly ever need. They're embarrassed by this reality and assured enough of their wealth and standing in the world that conspicuous consumption has lost its appeal. They value experiences over yet another possession. Many are empty-nester baby boomers. Finally, they're a challenge to marketers. Money's not the problem, but how to entice them to spend it?

The Question: How can marketers speak to well-off Simplifiers who "do not buy proportionately more goods as their net worth increases" and "value quality over quantity"?

(Image of zen garden by miszbabykiss, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.