Retailers target frugal holiday shoppers

CalgaryHerald.com : As businesses fight to keep their registers ringing in a troubled economy, advertisers increasingly, are targeting a new stripe of shopper.

The latest darling of the advertising world is the chequebook frugalista, the consumer still eager to spend but always with value in mind.

Vancouver’s Carats Investments is promoting diamonds as the “perfect holiday gift” because the stones “historically hold their value during recessions.” Vacation site Travelzoo.ca is pitching Caribbean getaways with the sale hook: “Take advantage of a travel deal and use the money saved to pay off debt.”

Marketers are reframing spending to make consumers feel they’re making responsible choices, and television is already working these shoppers into its story lines. On a recent episode of Ugly Betty, for example, a young woman with half a dozen shopping bags in tow bragged to her roommate: “You will not believe how much money I saved today!”

“People have to keep buying things in order to keep the economy going,” says Darren Dahl, professor of marketing at the University of British Columbia. “This is one way of making them feel OK about doing that.”

You might call it econowashing: giving products not usually associated with frugality the patina of value.

Luxury car manufacturer BMW is moving away from an emphasis on prestige to a message of safety and savings, reminding consumers of what brand spokesman Shawn Ticehurst calls the “value-for-money equation.”

Other brands are being pitted against pricier rivals as being more attuned to an era in which excess is seen as gauche. For instance, the tagline for a new Kia ad reads: “Since when is overpaying a status symbol?”

In the December issue of Vogue, budget buys in the magazine’s “reality chic” section include $450 dog collars, a $375 umbrella and $22 tea.

“The consumers who tend to buy these products are often quite insulated from living paycheque to paycheque,” says Dahl. “But they read the newspaper every day and feel like they should be concerned, so this (ad messaging) can go a long way to make them feel like good shoppers.”

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2 Responses

  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onRetailers target frugal holiday shoppers « Retail News UpdateHere’s a quick excerpt“People have to keep buying things in order to keep the economy going,” says Darren Dahl, professor of marketing at the University of British Columbia. “This is one way of making them feel OK about doing that.” … […]

  2. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onRetailers target frugal holiday shoppers « Retail News UpdateHere’s a quick excerpt“People have to keep buying things in order to keep the economy going,” says Darren Dahl, professor of marketing at the University of British Columbia. “This is one way of making them feel OK about doing that.” … […]

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