Does permanent job loss mean that someone is no longer a consumer? In some cases the answer is yes: some people continue to spend as if they still had a job, and the inevitable result is eventual destitution. Once they run out of unemployment benefits, savings and credit, their purchasing ability decreases to the barest minimum provided by food stamps. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but this makes them rather uninteresting from a new product marketing perspective.
But other people may be quick to shed their biggest categories of expense, walking away from their mortgage and their car loan, allowing their medical insurance to lapse, and developing a new lifestyle that is well within their new budgetary constraints. They may couch-surf, take advantage of house-sitting opportunities or rent a spot at a campground by the season. For the cold part of the year, they may head south and, again, camp out. They may look for seasonal employment, do odd jobs for cash, or use their skills to repair or make and sell items for cash.
With their largest expenses gone, their disposable income may actually be higher. However, their needs and requirements are quite different, and since most product offerings target the settled, fully employed consumer, they are in some ways under-served. This is an area where new product development opportunities abound, and companies that gain a share of this growing market segment and build brand loyalty among this fast-growing consumer underclass will lock in a decade or more of profits and rapid growth. As a marketing strategy, it is not just recession-proof but actually recession-enhanced.