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Monday, February 14, 2011

Financial infidelity

Today’s Media Post Marketing Daily provides an interesting look at something we have long referred to as as financial infidelity… that is, concealing expenditures from a spouse or significant other, either through silent spending or providing outright misinformation. Click here to read the story.

Implications: The story suggests that Gen Y members are more notorious about financial infidelity than their elders… but I wonder if that has something to do with the extreme economic circumstances that have impacted this group at a younger point in their lives.

In our on-location Elm Street Economics workshops, I have explained what the behavior of financial infidelity might look like… and that sometimes, it might even involve a form of money laundering at the household level. For example, someone indulges in the purchase of an expensive golf club at the pro shop, but doesn’t mention it to their spouse. Further, the golfer pays for the club partly in cash, partly with a household check card, and perhaps partly with a charge card. Any of the three amounts are less likely to be noticed by the spouse… so the big-ticket purchase is less conspicuous.

Do you sell a big-ticket item that might be purchased on the down-low? How could you make the purchase easier to accomplish “in bits and pieces” (do you offer a layaway program that would help move the purchase to the “up and up”)? How could you help a customer “out” their purchase intention, by helping them sell their spouse on why this purchase is a great idea? (In other words, it’s not enough for you to make the sale… how can you help your customer make the sale to their spouse/significant other?)

Indulgent purchases that had seemed “out of the question” during the great recession may be more acceptable, now that the recovery is underway. But that doesn’t mean that conspicuous consumption is back. You may still have customers who think an extravagant or indulgent purchase should be done carefully and with discretion. How can you help that become accomplished… or unnecessary?

[Note: For a counter trend to financial infidelity, see the preceding story, which follows immediately below.]

Mike Anderson, for the Elm Street Economics consumer trends blog. A service of The Center for Sales Strategy, Inc.

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