Have you noticed the subtle shift in buying patterns? An interesting consequence of the strange times we live in is emerging and multiplying itself in the hearts and minds of buyers – or rather to be more accurate, just in their minds.  It concerns the difference between “Need” and “Want”. Traditionally we as consumers have bought something we like the look of or the feel of whether it is a nice suit or dress, a house or participation at an event. A ‘heart’ decision if you will.

Let’s take the example of buying a dress or a suit. Whilst historically we might have impulsively bought something that felt good or looked different (stunning / racy / divine or other suitable emotive descriptor) we are now being altogether more practical. Now we tend to consider how future proof the item is, how many “wears” we can squeeze from it, how practical or hard-wearing it is and certainly the price. Spontaneity is being replaced by waiting for the chance the garment will feature in the sale and that risk is becoming more palatable and worth taking now more than at any other time I can remember. The ‘simply-must-have’ item is rapidly becoming a ‘simply-must-consider-if-the-price-drops’ item.  A house you were considering a few years ago that ticked all the boxes you required (4 bedrooms, home office, double garage, hot tub, large garden, views of the open countryside etc) may still have been rejected because it didn’t ‘feel’ right. Now that same shortlist of rejected houses is being re-examined because whilst it didn’t feel great at the time, the price erosion now warrants re-appraising that decision. Is the passion evaporating from our buying decisions?

Let’s consider participation at an event next. The checklist is still there, but priorities allocated to each item have certainly been altered. The great exhibitor party and gala dinner have dropped down the list, networking meetings up a few points; cost has erupted to the top as has value for money and return on the investment.  The ability to justify and quantify spend has scrambled to the uppermost heights. Early adoption and commitment have dropped down a few rungs and waiting for drop out and cancellation opportunities are more eagerly sought. The potential downside of not having a hyperlink and your logo in the pre-show publicity has been replaced by the chance of a late booking bargain – a reckless gamble or is it the new shrewd decision making?  Visitor numbers no longer outstrip demographics in terms of importance and re-usable stands and economy hotels are the new rising stars. I have heard someone refer to their decision as the ‘sensible’ thing to do. Priorities are the new norm and the ‘heart’ is playing second fiddle to the new CEO – the logical and far less emotional head. Be sure to consider the practicalities of participation at your event but don’t forget that if we can have fun and enjoy the process we will still gravitate towards that decision. After all, we know what all work and no play did to young Jack . . .