I’m in the US, and here things have changed dramatically since my last visit one year ago – and yet no doubt all the problems the world is facing now were bubbling away under the surface.
Talking to people here (I am at the Aspen ski resort, so there is a lot of talking) there are a few issues that everyone is conscious of and dealing with:
- Everyone has lost money over the last year – some up to 50% of their net worth.
- There is a clear realisation that retirement will be further off than expected, or for those already retired there is an expectation of reduced spending and more thrift- generally.
- Looking at Aspen the town, it is said that business is around 40% down – but there is a great variation between businesses.
- Luxury goods businesses are struggling and on 50% or more sale, and apparently have been on sale for months!
- Value for money is the catch cry – the WalMart television advertisement here says it all Save Money, Live Better.
- The restaurants in Aspen give a good indication of consumer attitudes here. The bars, where bar food is served at very reasonable prices, are totally packed – the silver service eating areas are in some cases close to empty.
- Expensive cocktails and wines are being ignored. Actually people seem to be drinking a lot more water at the bars.
- Every shop has “sale” signs and some even “closing down” and “liquidation” signs, but a closer observation shows that the latter are the stores selling optional consumer goods and Aspen is famous for these – expensive stuff that no-one really needs. The supermarket is busier than I have ever seen it – perhaps an indication of more eating at home?
Away from consumer spending there is a general concern about the US Government bailouts and the way they are being handled – President Obama has not got the confidence of these people at least; the entrepreneurs.
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The Madoff scheme has taken an estimated $2 billion from this town, and the property market here is down 20%, and more in some cases. But every real estate agent has made the same comment, that property in top locations is less affected than the rest.
The message is clear – here in the middle of the world’s largest and most consumerist society, the consumer is taking a breather and demanding better value at a lower cost.
As entrepreneurs, there is a clear message; the consumer dollar is harder to fight for, and consumers are looking for a better return for each dollar spent.
The sentiment is that things will not improve quickly, but equally there is confidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a question of when.
In the meantime, the message I am taking home is that we will all need to work smarter and harder, and tune-in carefully to our customers’ increased demand for value for money.
To read more Marcia Griffin expert advice, click here.
Marcia’s latest book, High Heeled Success (pictured left), and is a frank account of building a business from a solitary sales person to a multi-million dollar business with 4700 sales consultants around Australia and New Zealand. Contact Marcia to purchase. Marcia’s latest venture is skin care company griffin+row.
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