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Emerging Ahead

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Ever see a moth emerge from its cocoon, survey the surroundings, and return to its cozy confines? Probably not. But in some ways, this is how the American consumer responded to the Great Recession and aftermath: By taking stock of the landscape and retreating to the comforts of home.

While this trend toward ‘cocooning’ might imply a tightening of consumer purse strings, businesses that understand the shift can still profit. Here are five ways you might bring them – and their wallets – out of their shells:

1. Amp Up Your Website

Cocooners may be sticking closer to home, but they’re still shopping online. This makes now a smart time to review your business website. Does it make buying easy? Is it appealing to customers? Are the right calls to action in the right places?

Strapped for resources and time, owners typically neglect the online side of their business. Get a leg up on your competitors by giving cocooners an online experience that pays off for them and you.

2. Cater to DIYers

The personal pride that comes from doing it yourself is especially in vogue today. While this sounds like bad news for carpenters and other home improvement trades, the upside is twofold.

First, DIYers still need to learn the basics, so consider charging for classes that share your knowledge, like how to install crown molding or build a proper retaining wall. Second, there’s always been an after-market for home projects gone wrong that need professional fixing. When DIYers fall short, you can make up the difference.

For a look at what consumers are tackling themselves (that you may be called on to fix), check out 150+ DIY projects at Sunset.

One interesting side note about the DIY movement is that men are making more decorating decisions and women are doing more hands-on renovation work. As traditional gender lines blur, your marketing should take this shift into account.

3. Take A Different Kind of Inventory

You know what you have in stock, but can you make it relevant to cocooners?

Say your business sells jet skis. On the surface, a high-ticket item like this may seem contrary to the cocooning movement. That is, however, until you market jet skiing as a bonding experience for families. Cocooning is also about creating stronger family ties through experiences. The shared excitement and once-in-a-lifetime memories of weekends spent jet skiing turn a luxury into a near necessity worth one – and possibly several – purchases.

To learn more about experiential marketing, visit Wisegeek.

4. Make it Entertaining

With home entertaining on the rise, consider how your products and services can appeal in this environment. Movie nights might necessitate larger flat screen TVs and enhanced technology. Dinner parties can drive housewares and home furnishing purchases. Conventional and video gaming can drive rec room makeovers requiring furniture, accessories – even a need for more home insurance to protect these new possessions.

An insightful piece on cocooning and home technology can be found at USA Today.

5. Get Cooking

You don’t have to own a grocery to get on board with cocooners intent on bonding over food. But adopting a foodie mentality could help you leverage your business in the age of cocooning. If you sell patio furniture, accessorize your displays with attractive table settings that help consumers visualize the fun of outdoor dining. If you run an auto dealership, a well-planned tailgate party sales event could be just the thing to get families in, relaxed and interested in buying.

While consumers may be seeking the comforts of cocooning, small business owners can’t afford to retreat to the comfortable ways of the past. It will take creativity and a willingness to do things differently to emerge from this movement a winner.

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