I generally avoid blogging about anything serious -- this is supposed to be fun, right? But I also feel like I’m pretty truthful here (why else would I admit to my unhealthy obsession with The Hills?).
So if I’m being honest, I’d say if this recession is teaching us anything, it’s that we’re all poor. And we’re all to blame.
What does that mean?
It means, I don’t care if you make $50K or $50MM -- no matter how much we earn, we live like we earn more. From $5 cups of coffee, to $150 jeans, to $500 shoes, to $1500 handbags, to $5MM McMansions, spending is OUT of control. Now we’re feeling the consequences. And because of crazy spending, most of us don’t have that fund, where 8 full months of our salary is just sitting, waiting for a rainy day. I know I don’t have such a fund. But I DO know it’s raining!
In an environment where companies in every city, across every industry are freezing salaries, asking for voluntary pay cuts, and laying off perfectly good, hardworking people, the only thing any of us really knows for sure is that we really don’t know what will happen at work tomorrow.
I totally get there’s this outrage right now over AIG bonuses, on the heels of the outrage over automakers flying to their bailout hearings in private jets, on the heels of Citibank continuing to fund a baseball field, on the heels of many ill-advised corporate retreats and holiday parties. The list goes on. And on. And the “Average Joe” gets angrier and angrier (I mean, death threats for AIG employees? Really?! C’mon!).
I agree, it is OUTRAGEOUS, but there’s still this pervasive idea that rich guys are to blame. The truth is, they’re just more visible. An easy target. Because from Wall Street to Main Street, this is about greed, plain and simple. It’s not about the color of your shirt collar. It’s about keeping up with the Joneses. And we all do it.
Want to know why?
Just turn on the TV. Excess is everywhere. Like any of us really needs a 24-carat gold bidet? (That’s gross.) Or an iPhone? (A newer/better model is always around the corner.) Or a Slanket? (It’s just plain weird.) No! But we buy these and about a million other unnecessary things because when you get right down to it, WE LIKE STUFF. Especially when it’s NEW stuff! Or at least, we used to…
As a both marketer and a consumer, I realize I’m part of the problem. I’d suspect many of us are suddenly finding ourselves asking, do we WANT an item, or do we NEED it? And let's face it: We want most things, we don't need them.
I think the brands that acknowledge this -- that embrace what’s going on with the economy (like Hyundai’s buy-back program if you lose your job, or Disney’s buy 4 get 3 free vacations, or even Old Navy’s $15 sundresses) will find that their relevance in this economic downturn won’t hurt their brands at all. It will instill trust. So that, as we consumers move out of the Poor House and start making money again, we can spend, spend, spend ‘till our fingers hurt!
Well, I didn’t say we would actually LEARN from this economic badness, I just said we were to BLAME. After all, we’re Americans.
We can only resist something shiny and new for so long.
So, what say you?