Selling to the frugal

Consumers are clearly developing a taste for frugality, as we discovered while researching our story in this week’s issue of Maclean’s. That much is known. What companies and marketers have yet to figure is how to navigate the new era of thrift.

As the economy continues to sour, marketers are rethinking the best offers and incentives to dangle in front of a newly budget-conscious public. But figuring out what offers will resonate is a tough task, with the media landscape already littered with companies crowing about discounts and good values.

As the WSJ story points out, companies that opt for price-based promotions run the risk of training customers to expect more for less. That’s exactly what happened to General Motors. With Japanese competitors stealing market share a few years ago, the company responded by offering rebates and huge discounts, until customers refused to pay full price for a Pontiac. GM has tried to ween customers off the deals, but it’s been a tough slog, and the looming recession is only making that task harder.

Still, don’t be surprised to see plenty of sales geared to belt-tighteners.

Well, Whadayaknow.

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