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Economy Improves, But Americans Still Aren’t Spending

April 7th, 2011 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

A new Harris Poll on Americans’ attitudes toward spending showed some surprising results. Despite signs of economic recovery, consumers surveyed in the poll were no more likely to be opening their wallets than they were in the prior Harris poll in October 2009.

The survey asked about common methods of saving money. Almost the same percentage of respondents report buying more generic brands (61 percent now, 62 percent in October), brown-bagging their lunches (45 percent vs. 45 percent), going to a hairdresser less often (38 percent vs. 37 percent) and using refillable instead of disposable water bottles (35 percent vs. 37 percent).

While the recession is technically over, its impact is lingering on. So how can your business convince consumers to spend when they’re still holding tightly to their wallets? Here are some strategies.

Find pockets of spenders. For instance, the Harris poll showed consumers age 65 and up were less likely than other age groups to be cutting back. Within your own customer base, are there niche groups that are more ready to spend? If so, focus on those groups and (if necessary) develop new products and services to target them.

Emphasize value. Value is different than low price. It means your products or services are worth their price because they’re good quality and last. Throughout the recession, consumers have been more focused on value and on buying fewer, but better, items. Promote your products and services as fitting this need.

Focus on savings. Of course, saving money still matters. But since most small companies can’t offer rock-bottom prices, focus instead on how your product or service helps buyers save money over time. Maybe it needs to be replaced less often, saves time or saves energy.

Cater to current customers. Repeat business is more important than ever in this type of economy. Target your current customers with special rewards or loyalty offers. Send them postcards or email newslsetters alerting them to news about your business and special offers. Hold special events just for them. Follow up after the sale. If customers are happy with their purchase, it’s a great time to sell more related products or services. If they’re not happy, do everything you can to fix the problem.

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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