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'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

One thought on “Lessons From Condoms And Canned Goods”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.