by: Dick Stroud
Come on admit it. I bet you have never heard of the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief.
The model was first introduced in Ms Kubler-Ross’s 1969 book "On Death and Dying" and describes the five stages that people pass through when coming to terms with grief, especially the diagnosis of a terminal illness or catastrophic loss.
The guys at Harvard (The HBR Editor’s blog) reckon that this model might be appropriate to the way people are responding to these troubled economic times. They reason that most people appear to be stuck in one of the first four phases - denial ("this simply can't be happening!"), anger ("string up the evil bankers!") , bargaining ("I'm calling a credit counselor!"), and depression ("goodbye, Future!").
They don’t think, and I agree, that few if any people (and here I am talking about marketers) have reached the acceptance stage ("Hello, Reality").
This blog entry is well worth a read as is the Wikipedia description of the model.
What is interesting to speculate is the speed at which the different age groups will reach the Acceptance Phase and how they will deal with it. How will the 50-plus react when they realise that the wealth they expected to fund their retirement has dimished by 30-50% - that their kids will be hanging around for a lot longer whilst they try and find a job and raise enough money to buy a home – that their dreams of a retirement of fulfilling and useful activities has been replaced with having to find a way of supplementing their diminishing income. Not nice – is it.
So Mr, Mrs and Ms Marketer this is the world you are going to have to inhabit when you try and market to the older market.