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The New Norm: Trading Up, Down & Over

Wednesday, 11 Mar 2009 | 4:02 PM ET

There's been plenty of press about how consumers are trading down, but it's not just that simple, according to Mintel Senior Research Analyst Marcia Mogelonsky. There are other factors that create the perception of "value."

Mogelonsky, who was quoted in an article in Marketing Daily, says consumers at all income levels are "trading up, down and over" depending on the occasion.

Consumers may trade up to an affordable luxury like a premium chocolate, but trade down by staying home and watching a DVD instead of going to the movies. Trading over refers to consumers switching spending from one category to another. For example, instead of buying a new car, consumers may buy a new sound system or detail their current vehicle.

The trick for marketers is to identfy these opportunities.

Mogelonsky urges marketers to spend time in stores and observe how consumers are "repositioning themselves as shoppers," so they may reposition themselves as sellers.

  • Consumers Say They Won't Feel Better Until 2010

The investment is likely going to be worth it. Nearly a third of U.S. consumers feel it will be a year before their families are better off than they are today, and more than a quarter think it will take longer, according toa retail survey conducted by America's Research Group on behalf of Reuters.

As for Mogelonsky, she sees a lot of potential winners from the trend. These include remodeling products or services for households that can't afford a new home or home entertainment products that can be shared by the family. (Think about the success of Nintindo's Wii.)

More from Consumer Nation:

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com

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