Just got a release from Information Resources Inc. that identifies the emergence of a "Downturn Generation" with permanently changed behaviors. According to IRI, this new generation of Americans is adopting practices similar to Depression-era shoppers, implemented both to weather the recession and to keep a close eye on spending long after the recession ends.
Sorry, I'm not buying it. Has anybody seen any breadlines lately? Is unemployment hovering at 25%? Nope. Fact is, this generation of Americans hasn't been tested, ever.
But if there's one thing that Americans know how to do it is consume. And within the next few months, sales will be humming again as U.S. shoppers realize that they gotta have that new car, that new TV or that new electronic gizmo that their kid is clamoring for.
And there is good news to support an upbeat mood. Today, the Conference Board reported that the consumer confidence index jumped to a reading of 39.2 in April from 26.9 in March. The 12.3-point month-to-month gain was the fourth-largest ever in the 32-year history of the survey. The index bottomed at a record low 25.3 in February. March's revised reading of 26.9 was the second-lowest on record.
If past performances taught us anything, it's that the green eye of envy doesn't stay shut here in America for very long. Of course, there will be winners and losers when the economy is up and running again—try 3Q 09—but savvy marketers who can tap into the latest trend will be sure to find themselves in the win column.