Shopper’s Paradox

a new mission in town for advertising– drive consumption without coming off as irresponsibly
adovcating conspicuous consumption. With consumers reeling from a decade of
spendthrift ways and a total of $2.5 trillion in credit-card debt, brands must
embrace and play to the new form of consumption that has emerged – conscious

live in times of limited resources, but unlimited desire to consume them,” says
David Hieatt, founder of Hand-Me-Down, a line of jackets and bags that promotes
less consumption as a result of a better-designed product. “Going forward,
we’ll have to take more responsibility for our consumption.” It is argued that
this shift toward value is here to stay, even when the economy starts booming
This recession, or
“reordering” as Piers Fawkes (co-founder of
PSFK) calls it, has brought about a
higher awareness regarding the value of brands and products. So how are brands

Play to emotional needs. We all buy things beyond
pure need. What’s important is fostering a long-term relationship between brand
and shopper rather than short-lived instantly gratifying flings. “We are moving
from that very empty feeling of branding personified in the moment to more
viable options (brands) we can build a relationship with over time,” says
Lucian James, president of
Agenda, Inc.
Case in point is the new Land Rover campaign touting its durability –
“Easily handles the ups and downs of sand, mud, and the economy.” How else
would you approach selling a $60,000 vehicle in a tough economy?

Confirm the shopper’s
By playing to the shopper’s frugality and thrift intelligence, brands can wipe
away the guilt of indulgence (aka spending). People are looking for durability
and the satisfaction that comes from non-frivolous spending. When they feel
they’ve left with a product that will last, they’ll leave feeling justified for
making a purchase. Target® has done a brilliant job with their ads targeting
supermom. They’ve emphasized ways she can find luxury at home for less with the
tag line “saves them money while living up to their high, high expectations.”

Straightforward, no-nonsense
The economic shift to more value-oriented consumption has raised many questions
– can our economy sustain itself if people stop spending on every whim? No
industry is guiltier of perpetuating this spendthrift phenomenon that the
credit-card industry. They have taken strides to portray themselves as partners
in helping consumers overcome addiction to easy credit rather than enablers of
debt. Discover® has incorporated tools to help consumers manage debt and engage
in smart spending. It seems a bit disingenuous perhaps, but what option to they
have left?

recession has brought us to a new level of awareness in terms of how and what
we consume. People are looking for value, and most likely that’s here to stay.
They don’t want to be told times are
tough, they want to know what they can do about it.

are some more examples of brands that have altered their campaigns to incorporate
combinations of these three principles.


Mcdonalds logo

Campaign: McCafe

Message: Make your commute a
commute´ with fancy (yet affordable) premium coffee

Las Vegas Tourism®


Campaign: News report from the pool

Message: Yeah, sure, tourism is dead in Vegas
(wink, wink…more fun for the rest of us)



Campaign: I’m a Mac®

Message: Apple computers are cooler and come
with fewer hassles than PCs


Picture 1

Campaign: Laptop hunters

Message: Get a PC and you’ll get all the
features you like in a Mac – cheaper