The "frugal family of the 1990s" will change the face of retail
marketing, according to a University of Oklahoma researcher who
predicts slow income growth will cause millions of Americans to
struggle to maintain lifestyles they became accustomed to in the
decades following World War II.
Jack Kasulis, associate professor of business administration at
OU, points to four "key coping strategies" - wives working, fewer
children, increased credit and bargain shopping - as solutions which
came of age in the 1970s and '80s, and have been stretched to the
limit in many families.
"The post-World War II prosperity gave way to a new set of
circumstances where it is not as easy as it once was to succeed,"
Kasulis said. "Therefore, it is more difficult for Americans to
retain their standard of living."
Studies show this trend is hardest on families, and the retail
marketers who focus on family frugality will stand the best chance
for success, Kasulis said.
He identified four trends he expects to gain momentum in the
- Sales promotions, including rebate offers, coupons,
sweepstakes and other consumer targeting tactics, will play an
expanding role, as mass-media advertising budgets are cut.
- Nonstore buying, including catalog orders, television
shopping and home-delivery by local merchants, will account for up
to one-third of all retail sales by 1995.
- Non-traditional buyers will become a powerful force, as
teen-agers and fathers are entrusted with more of the routine
shopping responsibilities. More women will shop for things like
hardware and auto parts. Financially secure grandparents will fill
some gaps for their extended families, contributing the time and
money their offspring increasingly lack.
- The "high-velocity, limited-assortment" store will spread to
more and more product lines. Presently, Pit Stop USA and other
narrowly focused retail and service businesses are enjoying success
by generating large volumes through a specific niche.
Kasulis cites the Connecticut-based chain of Stew Leonard
"The Stew Leonard shopper patronizes his or her regular
supermarket for regular purchases, but periodically shops at Stew
Leonard's to stock up on non-perishable items," Kasulis wrote in a
paper presented Aug. 7 in a marketing educators conference in
Kasulis said on a recent Sunday in Connecticut, he observed a
Stew Leonard store with "23 check-out stands, and two full carts at
every one. That gives you an idea of the volume."
Because supermarkets continously operate near break-even
thresholds, the introduction of a Stew Leonard-type of high-velocity
operation in the Oklahoma City market would shake up the grocery
"The advent of such a concept in new markets will cause a
re-shuffling, and have a dramatic impact on what the local retail
structure looks like," Kasulis said. "It will happen, and we will
see a re-shuffling of merchandise mixes."
He points to the convenience store, fast-food and gasoline
service station businesses, which have blurred the strong
distinctions which once separated them. …