Friday, December 9, 2011

What are all those BMWs doing at Target?

          This economy is getting harder and harder to figure out. We all know we're either in a recession or recovering from one, depending on whom you talk to. But surprising things are happening.

           According to the New York Times, Brazilians are invading Miami with money. The favorable exchange rate encourages them. According to Roma Cohen, the owner of the store Alchemist, "Literally they will call us from the airport asking 'Do you have the latest Celine or Proenza Schouler bag?'" And they're prepared to pay $3,300 or more.

           That's not the half of it. What are all those Mercedes' and BMWs doing at Target? Who are all those well-dressed young people filling up baskets at the dollar stores, rejoicing about 25-for-$1 paper party plates?

           And who's got the money these days to buy the new Armani jeans that tennis champ Rafael Nadal is posing in for the Macy's ads? Maybe the same people who save money by buying store brands at the supermarket.

            What seems to be happening these days is that more and more of us are careful about spending our money--- on things we don't care that much about. For the things we do care about (golf clubs for some, sweaters for others) we're willing to go full boat.

           Consider Pottery Barn and Martha Stewart. Napoleon chairs and higher thread count. Martha has been a staunch advocate of the good life for some time; Pottery Barn helps you sit in it. Both have raised our taste levels and our passion for more quality products that add to our lives every day. Even if some of it comes from Kmart.

            If we can't afford Saks Fifth Avenue, we'll buy it from Sakes Off-Fifth. And we're willing to give up on other things to do it. Old Navy for t-shirts, Coach for a belt.

            It's called bifurcation, and social media are spreading the word. The implications are turning marketing on its head for hundreds of manufacturers and retailers.

            Which is okay as long as I can still find a parking place for my Beetle at Cosco.

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