The recession has now lasted for how long exactly? I am not the world renown economist but if I remember correctly I started hearing about recession and crisis somewhere in 2007, and this has been on-going since. So I assume we have not exited it yet.
I am with Seth Godin on this one, which means I have bad news – I don’t think this recession will end. Ever. Actually I think this is just the beginning. This is in fact a permanent decline, contraction of the economy. However it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bear with me.
We have overproduced and overconsumed when the times were good. Crisis and recession have sobered us, consuming crowd, up. The individuals en masse paused and thought ‘wait a minute… what’s going on in here?’ Several industries had their margins wiped out as a result.
Turns out we can live with the non branded products, and not badly. Turns out shopping in Poundland and Primark (1) is savvy and even fun. Turns out you don’t really need to buy designer goods to look or feel good. And actually buying vintage (or second hand) as well as taking a bus rather than taxi saves the planet. Being environmentally conscious isn’t just absolutely necessary in this world of overproduction and overconsumption but also cool.
There is a seismic shift taking place. More and more customers no longer want to buy just anything, beautifully packaged and sold by marketers. Is your product truly innovative? Is it fun? Is it environment friendly? How about your company’s mission, do you care only about increasing consumption? Or paraphrasing Seth Godin, can we not live without you and your products?
Apple becoming a more valuable company than some centuries old oil companies is a sign of things to come. Boring companies producing boring (polluting/ unhealthy) products will exist but won’t be able to command a premium margin and will face commoditisation and decline.
So it’s not the economy slowing down. It’s inevitable balancing, recalibration taking place in line with emerging more creative, savvy and environmentally conscious customer. And as we vote with our wallets, you and your products better be the top of the crop. As they say in Apple, think this way- what would Steve do?
(1) in the UK