Recession fatigue is starting to show in the United States, where consumers are rewarding themselves by “trading up” items that play an important role in their daily lives, according to Boston Consulting Group (reported by WWD). In fact, marketers interested in this trend need only look to Japan to see how an extended downturn can actually boost sales of high-quality daily necessities.
The top ten list of “trade-up” items for the U.S. is dominated by what most people would consider 21st Century home necessities. No. 1 is the personal computer, and household electronics like home entertainment (5), kitchen appliances (8) and washers and dryers (9) also feature. At No. 2 is fresh fruits and vegetables, reflecting wellness trends as well as the basic importance of food, with other entries being meat (4), sit-down restaurants (7) and fish and seafood (10). The other entries are bedding (3) and automobiles (6). With the exception of restaurants, the list clearly shows the items consumers will start spending on first will be things that improve their daily lives and personal space.
The changes in spending by Japanese a decade ago reflected their different priorities, with more emphasis on fashion (which doesn’t make Boston’s U.S. Top 10) and personal computers (mobile phones were always more useful here). However, the shifts in demand were similarly focused on improving consumers’ daily lives and, in the process, contributed to world-leading innovation in everything from functional home electronics and B2C mobile commerce to beverage flavors and cigarette packaging.
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