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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The local impact of global events

As a consumer trend watcher, I’ve been thinking about how the events in Japan might impact local consumer behaviors here in the U.S., and perhaps throughout North America. No one can say with certainty, as the story and circumstances continue to evolve… but we can consider a range of possibilities.

Today, the Lempert Report published a story about the impact on global seafood trade and how it is likely to impact U.S. food buyers. (Click to link.)

Last night, the Detroit Free Press published a story about the likely impact of the disaster on vehicles produced in Japan, or those made by Japanese manufacturers in other parts of the world. (Click to link.) A similar story was offered by Marketing Daily yesterday, pointing out that Toyota is the only major auto manufacturer with operations in the most affected parts of Japan. Click here to see the MD article.

This afternoon, MSNBC published another story about the auto manufacturing industry. See their take on the situation by clicking here.

I belong to a LinkedIn group composed of photographers who use Nikon equipment. One member started a discussion over the weekend about the affects of this tragedy on that company’s plants and personnel. The company had posted a statement on their corporate website (click to link).

This morning’s New York Times reported about supply disruptions for electronics manufacturers and other industry categories. Click here to see that story.

A notice at one Japanese-based video gaming site explains that due to ongoing tremors and power shortages, the company was suspending play.

Implications: One cannot overlook the enormity of the human tragedy happening in Japan since last Thursday. Less conspicuous is the small-scale impact that these events will have on global supplies… from autos and auto parts to electronic components, entertainment services and even food.

Consumers have heard much about the “global economy” over the past few years. In the coming months, they are likely to realize the extent to which the global supply chain has found its way into their local supermarket or other shopping establishments.

Do you carry products made in Japan… or products manufactured domestically but which carry a Japanese name? Are you telling customers about your abundant supply of products or parts, in case they assume the contrary? If your supplies have been impacted, do you have contingency plans they should know about?

Absent a readily available answer, people sometimes jump to conclusions. Do you have answers… and are you making them readily available?

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

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