Posts Tagged consumption

What’s “Recession-Proof” in Your Budget?


Candy is "recession proof" for many consumers.

Photo by terren in Virginia via flickr, under the Creative Commons License.

According to this New York Times article published Monday, candy is one of those rare consumer goods that isn’t affected by economic downturns; consumers will still buy their chocolate bar in good times and bad. Like Wal-mart, bankruptcy attorneys, and booze, candy is a “recession proof” business.

Granted, the article didn’t distinguish between was the sales of mass-produced candies, like Hershey bars (mmmm) and tootsie rolls (eeeeeh), and fine designer chocolates that can cost upwards of four dollars for a chocolate bar (don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out the Whole Foods candy aisle and you’ll see what I mean). Will people still be frequenting stores like Sucre, in New Orleans, Marie Belle in NYC, or ACKC in DC? That remains to be seen.

But what really caught my attention wasn’t the news about candy – it got me thinking about my own personal “recession proof” items. Because despite tough economic times, there are some things I’ll always pay a little more for. Here, in no particular order, is my own list of “recession proof” items:

Jenna’s Recession-Proof Goods

Wine. Okay, I said these were in no particular order, but this is totally top of the list. I love drinking it, I love reading about it, and I love discovering good bottles that I can actually afford. Wonk the Plank probably thinks I spend too much on wine, but, well, what’s the point of living without being able to indulge in a glass of Sauvignon blanc?

Brand-name flour. I guess as an “indulgence” this is one only costs a couple of dollars, but after reading enough baking cookbooks that sing the praises of different types of flour and will spell out how the protein content and types of wheat differ among each brand, I try to get the good stuff. Usually, I buy Gold Medal or King Arthur flour.

Puffins. No, they are not the cheapest cereal – when they’re not on sale it’s around $5 for a tiny box of them that doesn’t quite last the week. But they’re high fiber, wheat-free and just sweet enough to be completely addicting. If I wanted to save money, I’d go back to eating oatmeal.

Nice Hair and Face Products. I’ve tried so many times to cut back in this area, and I always fail. Granted, it’s not like I buy $300 face cream, or anything, but I spend a relatively good chunk of change on my products. However, whenever I buy the cheaper stuff I always regret it and pay my penance in frizzy hair and breakouts. So I’ve stopped trying to get the cheaper stuff, because I always end up caving and buying my usual products before I’ve used all the cheaper items. It’s a vicious cycle.

Nice Jeans. I used to buy jeans at the GAP and Old Navy, where they would cost under $50 a pair. But that’s before my friend talked me into buying my first pair of Sevens – $145 later, I was in love. For me, that’s a huge amount of money to spend on a pair of jeans, but dear god, they just looked and felt so much better than my other jeans. I could never go back. I’d rather buy jeans less frequently, than buy more pairs of cheaper jeans that won’t look as good.

Wonk would tell you that there are more items on this list, and there probably are. But I’d rather hear about you: what will you never stop splurging on? What’s “recession proof” in your budget?


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Fuzzy Green

Whenever I’m in need of a new cleaning solution, I’m inevitably drawn to the green products I see on store shelves. I’m intrigued by their slick packaging, pretty colors, and minimalist design. Even so, part of me always wonders: just how green is this product? Do the clean lines and pastel colors of the Method cleaners really mean that they’re going to be better for the environment? I always mean to research the product in question so I can make the right choice the next time I’m at the store, but I almost never do, and always end up buying the same old thing.

So I wasn’t surprised at the findings in this Brandweek article, which I came across while researching the July Test Product of the Month, and which confirmed a lot things I already suspected about the current frenzy for “green” products.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I think that any big movement that gets the country thinking about how they can help the environment – no matter how shallowly it’s treated in the press – is a good thing. After all, people will never act unless they’re informed about a problem, and will never change their habits until they feel pressure (peer, financial, political or otherwise) to do so. So if the media creates a trend that makes people feel guilty about driving big cars and wasting gas, and it results in increased funding for public transportation, smart community planning, and less air pollution, then I’m all for it.

However, I wasn’t surprised that the consumers in the Brandweek piece were, at best, befuddled about green products – what they are, what makes them “green,” and even which products are environmentally friendly.

The article reported on a study called Eco Pulse, which was conducted by the Shelton Group, and which surveyed consumers about their green buying habits. Not surprisingly, while consumers indicated that the environment was an important consideration in their purchasing choices (49 percent), only a small portion said that environmental concerns actually drove them to buy different products (21 percent). And only seven percent could actually name the green and/or environmentally friendly product they supposedly changed their habits to buy.

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