Implications of cultural change for the marketer

Changes in norms such as those cited above signal a new American value pattern emerging whose impact will be felt by marketers in many ways. Just a few such areas are cited here.

First, the increasing search for fun, enjoyment and excitement means that a new work ethic is evolving in which leisure activities will occupy a more important place in people’s lives. Thus, new opportunities will continue to open up in travel, entertainment, sports, leisure oriented products and the education an information industries.

Related to the work leisure situation is the fact that time is becoming a more precious commodity and those items that save time are becoming greatly valued by consumers. Time saving goods and services include convenience foods, microwave ovens, disposable diapers, fast drying paints, fast food restaurants, supermarket delivery operations, professional lawn and household care services and special airline and rental car procedures to eliminate waiting.

Another factor connected to the work leisure situation is the role of the home as a focal of social activities, long term investment, and personal expression. Inflation has accused people to evolve a new economic logic, and the home is increasingly being as an investment. Coupled with changing lifestyles three is consequently, more of a focus on obtaining items for the house and spending time in the home. The stay at home urge, also known as cocooning has helped to spur the do it yourself market and the sales of home technology items such as video cassette recorders and computers as well as recreational or leisure assets such as exercise machines, swimming pools and spas.

Second, as people shift their notions about individual right and responsibilities and increasingly feel that they are entitled (regardless of their ability to pay) to such things as adequate retirement income, comprehensive health care, decent housing and college educations, consumerism may be expected to expand. This entitlement psychology will lead to an escalation in people’s insistence on having their rights to safe proven nonpolluting products and packaging. More information and truthful labeling and advertising may also be expected.

Third, the emphasis on self respect sense of accomplished and self fulfillment with its focus on inner rather than other directed satisfactions means that consumer will want to live life to the fullest. There is an unprecedented degree of interest in spending time, money, and effort on maximizing looks, and feelings of vigor, vitality, and well being. Studies have shown that 80 percent of consumers are concerned with being good to my self and improving my self. Consequently marketing opportunities abound for new products and services aimed at self fulfillment and improvement. The success of self help books testifies to this movement, as does the fact that the adult sector is the fastest growing portion of the education market. Opportunities ranging from hobbies (to satisfy personal creativity needs) to weight watching and whirlpool baths (to satisfy health and personal care needs) should remain strong. The broad based growth in the elite market will foster an increased interest in elegance, in sales of certain kinds of high end products that people associate with the very wealthy, in more home decorating and generally in more concern with status among the haves who desire to flaunt it.

Fourth, the back to nature or simple is better trend has been influential in the rejection of the artificial and the acceptance of the natural. This has found expression in many product areas, including apparel (natural fabrics), toiletries (natural make up and herbal fragrance shampoos) pharmaceuticals (stressing simple ingredients with no harmful side effects), food (natural ingredients, health foods, and home preserving), and housing (earth tones and indoor plants). Tired of trend ness and materialism Americans are rediscovering the joys of home life, basic values, and things that last. This change has carried over into business strategies where value marketing is becoming the watchword for the 1990s. Customers are demanding the right combination of product quality, fair price and good service. As result, value marketers are hotly pursuing the following approaches: (1) offering products that truly perform; (2) giving more than consumers expect; (3) giving enhanced guarantees; (4) avoiding unrealistic premium pricing; (5) giving customers the facts, and (6) building relationships with buyers.

As these cultural changes mold a new American consumer, they have significant implications for any aspect of marketing strategy, including product planning distribution advertising and market segmentation decisions.