Stressed-out consumers need help

CNN.com had an article recently about the increasingly common seven-day work week. People are working two jobs to keep up financially. They are cutting back on the non-essentials that used to bring pleasure to their lives. They are scrambling to find new jobs since their last ones just ended. They are worried. They are stressed. And they need help.

I’m not talking about the Washington bailout style of help. Marketers need to consider what they can do to add value to and connect with consumers in their current state of anxiety. I predict three things will be increasingly common in this time of high anxiety:

1. A search for simple pleasures: The monthly spa treatment may be gone, but a relaxing bubble bath may become a must. The fancy dessert at your favorite restaurant may get replaced with a chunk of nice chocolate that lasts a week. The pizza night after Little League games may shift to make-your-own pizzas using frozen crusts. A marketer who can help replace former pleasures with simple and affordable alternatives can connect with consumers right now. Example: Dove Chocolate

2. A desire to simplify: With so many things on people’s minds right now, they can develop a sense of being overwhelmed. They are continuing to get barraged with messages and their to-do lists are not shrinking. Anything that will help simplify their lives is welcome. But that does not mean becoming simplistic in how you serve customers. Simplistic solutions often frustrate consumers; the successful company will offer a simple solution that addresses consumers’ needs. Example: Free Quicken Online

3. A period of reassessment: Now that I lost my job, what do I really want to do with my life? With the big vacation trip no longer possible, how can we enjoy family time in a new way? Is this a time to get education or training for a new career? Big questions are being asked. Marketers should provide help, especially online, where consumers can access it whenever and wherever they want. Example: Everest Career Education Network

Keep these three concepts in mind as you plan your programs for this year. Please send me other examples of these concepts as you encounter them.