a marketing carol
I couldn’t resist one last Christmas cartoon reference before New Year’s.
I was at a holiday party recently with a bunch of other marketers. Everyone seemed both thankful that 2008 was reaching an end and nervous about what was in store for 2009. It felt like there was a specter in the room around the uncertainty of next year and the general fear around low consumer confidence.
It got me thinking about A Christmas Carol (spending Christmas in London tends to remind you of Dickens). In the story, Scrooge gets progressive visits from the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
It feels like we marketers are being visited by the same spirits as we think about our businesses before heading back to the office in January. It struck me that we’re all feeling anxiety about the Ghost of Shopping Future, and that in some way it’s haunting all of our marketing plans for next year.
Something cracked me up about drawing this Grim Reaper character holding an empty shopping bag. An empty shopping bag looks so much more benign than a scythe or something. But, as a symbol, an empty shopping bag is actually pretty frightening.
This fear of the empty shopping bag can be pretty paralyzing, and lot of the marketing talk sounds pretty apocalyptic. But, of course, people will continue shopping. They may shop less frequently and may look for different things, but I think there will always be a role for brands that have meaning to people. It’s up to us as marketers to figure out what will be meaningful. And to react quickly when what was meaningful before has lost some of its meaning.
Above all, remember Blue Oyster Cult and “don’t fear the Reaper”. Figure out how to re-frame what you’re doing to have meaning to consumers, even when they’re shopping less.
And when in doubt, use more cowbell.