What do dentists, vasectomies, gun sales and shark attacks tell us about the current state of the economy? Consumer habits over the past year and half have been pretty unusual according to John Gerzema of marketing giant Young & Rubicam because of the current recession and those atypical behaviors reflect a unique, overwhelming period.
- Dentists report an increase in patient visits because of molar-related problems from adults grinding their teeth. These incidents are believed to be stress-induced.
- Gun sales are up almost 25% since last January, according to the FBI.
- Vasectomies are up 48%, according to the Cornell Institute.
- Shark attack incidents are at their lowest level since 2003, probably because fewer people are frequenting beach areas on vacation.
These trends point to a greater impact by Main Street, often overshadowed by the predominance of Wall Street. “Consumers are not in retreat,” says Gerzema. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the consumer, who drove us into the recession, to lead us right back out.” Gerzema believes the answer is Americans moving from mindless to mindful consumption.
Gerzema, a thought leader and respected voice in the intricate world of commerce, discussed more than molars and shark bites at the TEDxKC conference in August. Consumer empowerment and partner building with customers were common themes weaved during the 16 minute speech.
Gerzema’s remarks oozed optimism and silver linings from this dark period in our country’s financial history – though not everyone was buying the American dream. One reader comment questions whether Gerzema’s reflections while very intelligently, aren’t assembled with interesting data to support a somewhat vacuous conclusion. “Can even ‘enlightened’ consumerism bring about the fundamental shifts we need now? 72% of GDP is consumption, he says; isn’t there something troubling about an economy that depends upon consuming to that extent?