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What sells during a recession?

CNBC recently reported that 64% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

That’s an all-time high, and it’s not just the US. Most people, in most countries, are feeling the pressures of a difficult market.

And with many analysts saying we’re in a recession, it’s worth asking…

What sells when people are reluctant to part with their hard-earned cash?

Ever heard of the lipstick effect?

It’s a term used to describe the instant gratification that people look for when they can’t afford big purchases.

If you can’t afford a trip to France, buy a bottle of champagne. If you can’t afford a luxury spa day, buy lipstick.

Here are some other interesting sales trends:

  • Sweets. Sugary products, like chocolate and ice cream, increased in Europe during the 2009 recession. Because who doesn’t want a hit of sugary happiness in less-than-happy times?
  • Second-hand shopping. Instead of buying new, people often look to buy used products during recessions.
  • Less business loyalty. People are significantly less loyal to their favorite brands when they’re strapped for cash.


When times are tough, people look for easy ways to cut their current spending—often hunting for cheaper alternatives than what they would’ve otherwise bought.

… Something to think about as you put together campaigns and pitch products.

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