Follow by Email

Monday, June 29, 2009

The New Normal

I just love all the new terms that have found a place in our language. The lexicon is now filled with new terms that in better economic times would never be on the tip of our tongue. Things like “short sell’, “deficit-neutral”, “bubble”, “derivative” and “speculator” to mind. The best one of all to hit the media is what ABC News is calling “The New Normal”. This New Normal is the lifestyle change we have all faced since the total collapse of the economic system back in October, 2008. It was not that long ago that credit was easy, gas was cheap, and people drove SUVs without the guilt trip. That’s not normal anymore.
Interesting that phrases and sayings that were popular in the Great Depression and in earlier tough times have resurfaced with a kind of poetic vengeance.
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
“Better be on the safe side.”
“You bet your bottom dollar.”

These Great Depression phrases reflect the unemployed in the 1930’s when 25% of our workforce was standing in soup lines. We are nowhere near that situation today. But the times, they are indeed changing. We clip coupons. We group trip, doing several errands at once. We go nowhere on staycations. We pack a brown bag lunch. We now have a garden with tomatoes and cucumbers. We browse the thrift stores and purchase our books on used sites. Many of us are taking on a second income to pay bills. We dry clean less and we take our shoes to be re-heeled. If we buy a car, we look at pre-owned vehicles as well as new. We go to restaurants with less frequency. And when we eat out, it is often out of the pantry.
Times have changed with lightening speed. We are indeed deep into the New Normal. For small and medium businesses, it has made us more focused on customer service. Businesses now “bundle” products and sell these packages at eye-catching prices to attract the wiser and more frugal customer. We constantly sharpen our business plan to attract customers who are not in our typical demographic. We are in a continuous state of re-invention.
But think about this. The New Normal is the best thing to happen to us in decades and with it all of our bad habits are slowly being erased. We in the Triangle were the last region in the country to be pulled into the economic downturn. We will be the first out of it as well. Already we are seeing signs of growth in many sectors.
But one thing is certain. We will be the “More Generation” in the New Normal. We will save more and we will recycle more. We will be more diligent with our habits and practices, and will spend more time with our new business focus and with our families. In these situations, more is the best strategy when all we hear is less. You know what? The New Normal might not be so bad after all.

No comments: