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It’s not just millennials – Americans straight up aren’t buying stuff anymore

(BUSINESS NEWS) What’s causing this shift, and how can you take advantage?

mens shopping

And the trend continues

Could the future of marketing your products be about the experience? It’s a classic adage, but as people buy less stuff, it will become even more critical.


What are they replacing it with?

Using data aggregated from credit and debit card purchases, Merrill Lynch found a consistent decrease in consumer goods spending by the American population, as reported by Business Insider. It’s a consistent trend across several industries, including home goods, apparel and electronics. By contrast, spending on travel and restaurants increased, in addition to spending on sporting goods.

This is fairly consistent with company performance trends as a whole. According to TIME Money’s analysis of the Merrill Lynch report, spending at department stores – the epicenter of stuff – decreased four percent from the previous year. In another article, they wrote that Americans spend more going out to eat than they do on their monthly grocery bill.

Point being, your customers generally want less stuff and more experiences.

Staying relevant

What’s causing this shift? As saving money and paying down debts becomes a more pressing need for Americans (especially of a younger demographic), consumers want to make every entertainment dollar count. Recreational activities can provide a greater return on that for less money, and we remember a vacation or a nice dinner more than our newest iPhone acquisition. Furthermore, in an age where products are ubiquitous (thanks Amazon) and turn over quickly (looking at you, smartphones), the rat race seems eternally unwinnable and, as a result, far less appealing.

So, how can you take advantage?

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Customization and customer service can provide great experiences when buying material goods. Find ways to bring consumers into the process of creating a product, and leave them with a smile while they’re a part of it. Consider how your retail experience, both online and offline (see: Apple stores) can set you apart as remarkable.

Your brand is a part of the experience

Certain channels lend themselves better to experiential marketing than others. Instagram and Snapchat are huge for many reasons, and one of them is that they provide an outlet for documenting that experience. Be in those channels.

While you’re there, make sure your message is correct. Don’t make it too complicated; make it memorable and sharable. Finally, focus on how your product makes memories and enriches experiences.


Written By

Born in Boston and raised in California, Connor arrived in Texas for college and was (lovingly) ensnared by southern hospitality and copious helpings of queso. As an SEO professional, he lives and breathes online marketing and its impact on businesses. His loves include disc-related sports, a pint of a top-notch craft beer, historical non-fiction novels, and Austin's live music scene.

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