CRM and the middle-aged simplifier

Posted: October 31, 2008 in CRM

 

 

Harvard Business Publishing posted a very provocative blog entry by marketing guru John Quelch recently, you can read the whole thing here.

Quelch’s thesis is that the recession now upon us will accelerate consumer downsizing.  That should raise alarms for vendors and for CRM vendors in particular as we continue to grapple with questions about what CRM ought to be in the future.

Perhaps it is only coincidental that the 77 million baby boomers are reaching points in their lives when simplification makes a great deal of sense and the recession will only serve as the tipping point.  But the fact remains that the generation that reprised Thorsten Veblen’s ideas about conspicuous display of consumption is at a point in life when more “stuff” is not as valuable as more “experiences.”

Thus, Quelch tells us to watch for simplification in all things, for people of a certain age, who no longer need the big house (the kids have flown the coop) or the big SUV (not very green).  Even the gourmet kitchen, once an everyday necessity, now stands unused many nights as people with discretionary cash opt for the experience of dining at the new Pakistani place down town.

Vendors from home decorators, appliance makers and even grocers ought to be concerned that as many Americans use the recession as a cause for simplification their businesses will be hurt.

Some vendors will do just fine according to Quelch.  The aforementioned Pakistani restaurant might be just fine (provided the whole service experience is top notch) as will be any business that can package itself as a new experience to be tried and maybe latched onto.  Perhaps that includes all forms of travel including ecotourism, cruises to Alaskan fjords or renting a place on the beach for a week.

Believe it or not, there’s nothing radical in all this, in other cultures simplification of one’s life and lifestyle has been seen as a net positive for a long time—the Scandinavians and Japanese come to mind here.  But when Americans do it, especially a generation of 77 million of us, the numbers are big enough to have multiple ripple effects.

As the middle-aged simplifier (Quelch’s term) replaces the soccer mom Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore, authors of “The Experience Economy” and lately, “Authenticity: What Customers Really Want” stand to look like the geniuses they are, but to more people.  CRM take note, the simplifier is here and she wants more experiences and less clutter in her life.  What have you got to say about it?

So, what did you think?

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