Brits Stiff Upper Lip Goes Limp as Recession Bites

23 July 2008

LONDON: Britons may be famed for their stiff upper lip in times of trial – but new research from M&C Saatchi suggests a growing flaccidity of the uppermost facial labium as recession begins to grab the nation by the throat.

Reacting to Recession, a study by M&CS, uncovers the varying attitudes and behaviours adopted by different groups of consumers in the current economic climate.

It reveals the existence of eight segments with distinctly different approaches to spending – each with its own different challenges and opportunities for businesses.

Meet the New Britons as portrayed in the study …

  1. Crash-Dieters
    (Aiming to cut pounds from their weekly spend, they cut out any indulgent spending.) Crash-dieters have reacted dramatically to the squeeze. They try to stop spending on all non-essentials and spend as little as possible on essentials until things begin to look better.
  2. Scrimpers
    (Looking to maintain their lifestyle at lower cost.) Scrimpers are downtrading. They're holidaying in Cornwall, rather than Corfu. They're substituting brands with own-label. They've discovered Prosecco is just as nice as champagne. And they're wearing Primark.
  3. Abstainers
    (Those who have delayed spending on some big items.) They haven't stopped spending, but have postponed buying some big items until times are easier. That new plasma TV they fancied will have to wait - unless it comes with a ‘buy now, pay later' deal.
  4. Clothcutters
    (Knowing they can't afford it all, they cut their cloth according to their purse.) Clothcutters recognise the need to rob Peter to pay Paul. They're not buying a new car, so they can still have their two weeks in the sun. They've stopped going out, so they can afford a new table for dining-in.
  5. Treaters
    (Who cut back, but award themselves little indulgences to make up for their frugality.) Tightening of belts doesn't come naturally to Treaters, so they reward themselves for their frugal behaviour. They'll cancel going out, but buy a nice bottle of wine. Their kids lose out, but are allowed the odd treat.
  6. Justifiers
    (Aren't unafraid to spend, when they can find a good enough reason.) Justifiers like to spend, but right now they need to find themselves a good excuse to. They're more than happy to whip their cards out if there's a limited offer, a latest model or an additional something free.
  7. Ostriches
    (Keep spending as if nothing's happening.) In denial, Ostriches refuse to change their behaviour. They're young. They're enjoying themselves. Their credit cards are taking the strain. Why should they have to compromise?
  8. Vultures
    (Seeing bargains everywhere, they are ready to swoop). Vultures love a good economic crash. While others suffer, they're circling the high street, making a killing on all the bargains out there. They've even got a beady eye on the property market.
Says M&CS ceo Tim Duffy: "This study looks at the different responses to economic pressures. Companies need to understand which segments their customers are in. They can then adapt their marketing strategy to get a greater share of wallet and win new customers. 

"The key to making money in any situation is being able to spot the opportunities for upside – in a downturn, this is doubly true."

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff