How crisis reshuffles consumer segments

How crisis reshuffles consumer segments

As consumer confidence drops as a result of a potentially approaching financial crisis, classical segmentation, based on demographics or even lifestyle, loses relevance. A much more useful way to think about your audience and the correct way to approach is offered by a HBR paper on the 2008 financial crisis. According to it, all mothers, all beer-drinkers, all sports-enthusiasts, you name it, fall into one of the following 4 categories.

“SLAM -ON-THE-BRAKES”: feel most vulnerable and hardest hit financially reduces all types of spending by eliminating, postponing, decreasing, or substituting purchases Low-income + anxious higher-income.
They resonate to: Price, promotions; Do-it-yourself alternative

“PAINED-BUT-PATIENT”: tend to be resilient and optimistic about long term; less confident in a near-term recovery and in their ability to maintain their standard of living. Make cuts in all areas, though less aggressively than ‘Slam-on-the-brakes’.
They resonate to: Price, promotions; Loyalty rewards

“COMFORTABLY WELL-OFF”: feel secure about their ability to ride out current and future bumps in the economy. Consume at near-precrisis levels, though now they tend to be a little more selective (and less conspicuous) about their purchases.
They resonate to: Quality; Inconspicuous consumption

“LIVE-FOR-TODAY”: care-free, carry on as usual, unconcerned about savings. Typically, urban and younger, they’re unlikely to change their consumption behavior unless they become unemployed.
They resonate to: Quality; Regular advertising

What does it mean for brands?
Any category will have a specific ratio of these segments.

  • Travel (5%-5%-50%-40%)
  • Apparel (5%-10%-65%-20%)
  • Luxury items (0%-0%-90%-10%)
  • Cosmetics & Skincare (10%-10%-50%-30%)
  • Home appliances & devices (5%-5%-50%-40%)
  • Groceries (25%-25%-25%-25%)
    (estimates from GWI April 2020 Findings Report and Kantar Survey)

Brands need to decide whether they can cater to all segments, without sending out confusing messages (through dedicated product offerings) or focus on the most profitable segments.During a crisis, it’s not only consumers who choose to opt out from specific brands. Brands too may need to opt out from some segments.


Author: Andreea Apostoliu

Andreea Apostoliu is Digital Strategist at MRM Romania

These are the times when people need to learn from each other more than ever. Times when sharing knowledge is a practice everyone must embrace for the sake of better tomorrows to come. That’s why at McCann Romania, we decided to create a platform where everyone can share their pieces of advice for the industry in different formats. Strategic Hack is the format where experts prove through different perspectives that pretty much anything can be hacked with strategy.

Aboneaza-te la newsletterul IQads cu cele mai importante articole despre comunicare, marketing si alte domenii creative:


Kantar is the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company. We help clients understand people and inspire growth. Kantar is a data and evidence-based agency providing insights and actionable... vezi detalii »