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Remember when times were very good? When your income took off, the house gained in value by the hour and the stock market rocked? Buying was like a sport. You rewarded yourself. Ah, that shirt for $100, what the hell? I always wanted jeans for $300 and I deserve them. Why not? That’s the story you told yourself and it seemed to make sense.

Times have changed. Mass psychology and your own story are different. Now, we don’t buy to reward ourselves. We buy to defend the Status Quo. We don’t buy the tenth pair of shoes because we deserve them. We buy a new pair because the other pair is falling apart. Or we buy because we’ll never get that deal again. Or we buy a a book for $9.99, not the shirt for $100 to reward ourselves.

Sometimes, we continue to buy the same thing but our story has dramatically changed.

When you bought our Peppermint Latte 4 years ago, it was just another small reward you didn’t even think about. Now, when you pay $4 for a coffee, you see it as a major reward for something else you saved on. Or it’s your weekly treat. Maybe it’s the only thing that connects the indulgent past to the austere present.

Marketers have to understand that stories have changed over the last three years. And they have to adjust their own story to fit with the new customer narrative. To market a car by communicating the open road, freedom and status would be stupid in these times. It doesn’t mean you have to just focus on the economic side of every purchase. That would be stupid, too.

You need to understand the mindset and inner stories of your main customers. And your story has to be complementary to their stories. People have become more perceptive to the real you, they can’t be just marketed to. If your real story is misaligned with your product and marketing, you will have a hard time surviving in these rough times. You might have to change your reality: what you make, where you make it, what’s the impact on society, how you price it, how you treat your shareholders, how you treat your customers. Everything becomes the brand experience. Once you change these elements, your story will change. And your customers, too.