by Hans Eisenbeis
I said something wrong and she was really mad at me. I thought I’d smooth things over by picking up some ice cream from one of Minneapolis’s awesome creameries. Two scoops of vanilla with black pepper and rose water for my old friend — now that’s a personalized apology.
You could say the same thing about the economy. We here at the financial services practice at Iconoculture find ourselves telling clients “I’m sorry” a lot. The recovery just isn’t living up to the high expectations of business, even though we’ve been warning them about a “double dip” recession for 12 months.
In August, we learned that sales of homes both new and existing fell to the lowest level ever recorded (WashingtonPost.com 8.25.10). Americans simply are not buying or selling houses, and that’s a terrible indicator for the economy. It means unemployment remains a drag, that there’s still plenty of debt that consumers are trying to pay down, and that the Great Recession continues to keep us all in hunker-down mode.
So how to get us all out of this funk? Paradoxically, it might be the little indulgences like ice cream that help consumers begin to emerge from their extreme thrift. After nearly three years of recession, everyone needs some psychological wiggle room, and we expect to see a slow but sure return to modest discretionary spending — especially as we head into eggnog season.
What can business do? Acknowledge the tough times and help consumers justify small, targeted, experiential indulgences that really count. Because nothing says “I’m sorry” like two scoops on a sugar cone.