Lessons From Condoms And Canned Goods

Okay, I’ll admit it, I used “condoms” in the title as a cheap trick to draw in readers. But don’t blame me, I’m discussing an article in Time Magazine called What Sells in a Recession: Canned Goods and Condoms.

The article uses Nielsen Co. data to discuss things that are selling (and not selling) in this economic environment. Here are some tidbits:

  • “Family planning” products, which include condoms and over-the-counter female contraceptives, were up 10% for the first two months of this year. My take: Couples are going out less, which is leading to a phenomenon that the article calls “cocooning.”
  • A catch-all category called “seasonal general merchandise,” which contains thawing salt, body warmers and gift packages with candy went up the most. My take: Even in a downturn, people need to deal with the cold and snowy winter, and candy is a more affordable Valentine’s Day gift than jewelry.
  • Canning and freezing supplies like jars, bags and containers were up 11%.  My take: Consumers are cooking in bulk to prepare for a lot of in-house dining.
  • Other categories in the top 20 include baking mixes and supplies, fresh-meat, vegetables and dry grains, dry pasta, cheese, wine and liquor. My take: Looks like a surge in home-cooked Italian meals. Yum!
  • Film and cameras dropped the most, a decline of 31%. My take: Less traveling and more contraception cuts the demand for picture-taking.
  • Sports and novelty cards dropped 26%.  My take: Could anything be more discretionary?!?
  • Magazines dropped 17%. My take: Part of a longer trend in the media industry. Some blogs can be even more engaging than magazines. 🙂
  • Cookies and ice cream cones dropped 10%. My take: People are opting for more home baked desserts.
  • Other products that dropped include air fresheners and deodorants, kitchen gadgets, lawn and garden items, and bath accessories. My take: I have no idea why this is happening, but houses are going to look and smell worse.

The bottom line: The recession windfall: romance and home-cooked meals.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

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