I was invited to attend a presentation by TNS Brisbane, the market research company, a few weeks ago. The topic was “How the Global Financial Crisis is Affecting Australian Consumers”.

Prior to this I had attended a few business presentations about the impact of the Global Financial Crisis and how businesses should cope with this new challenge. Typically past presentations about this topic follow the usual sequence of topics as outlined below.


  • Slides with economic indicators and trends –GDP etc
  • Quotes from respected financial commentators.
  • Outlining why this recession unique
  • No clue as to how long it’s going to last or how bad it’s going to get.
  • Consumer confidence is low
  • Consumers will buy less and defer purchases
  • etc, etc

Pretty ho hum. Effectively these presentations tell you stuff you either already know or can easily read about in the newspaper. You wonder why you wasted your time attending.

But rarely will a speaker cover with certainty and authority exactly what you should do as a business to survive and maybe even thrive in tough times.

My expectation was this would be different and interesting as it was conducted by a respected research company that I have worked with for many years.

As the speaker was setting the scene in the introductory slides it initially appeared as if this presentation was also going to head off in the same old direction.

Economic indicators were displayed followed by consumer sentiment and impact on spending. I started to feel restless.

My concerns were unfounded as the TNS speaker was just setting the scene for the key messages. .

Key Message 1 – Not all consumers react to the Global Financial Crisis the same way.

This was interesting as reading all the gloom and doom in the Media you cannot help but become hypnotised and believe it’s all BAD news.

Key Message 2 – There are two variables that determine how consumers react to the Global Financial Crisis.

The first variable is whether consumers take responsibility for the situation as a Collective (We will come out of this together) or as an Individual (I need to deal with this myself). The second variable is how consumers react to change namely high stress or low stress.

If you imagine this on two axes where on one axis you have responsibility (Collective or Individual) and on the other axis you have ability to deal with change (High Stress or Low Stress).

Based on these two variables they broke up the entire consumer market into 6 segments. In addition they also provided a profile of each of these segments outlining exactly what makes them ‘tick’.

Imagine targeting consumers based on how they react to the Global Financial Crisis! Used strategically the opportunities for business especially in these tough times are absolutely staggering. Imagine if you were in the finance sector and you wanted to determine the key messages messaging you needed to attract investors who were happy to invest in challenging times. Or imagine knowing the communications messages you need to encourage patrons to continue to attend the opera in tough times. As an example one of the segments was quite ‘bullish’ and ‘defiant’ and strongly ‘confident’ about the financial crisis. This segment would be relevant target market for both the above scenarios.

This goes way beyond traditional segmentation methods and the thinking behind this should be applauded.

Of course there is a lot more information about this segmentation methodology and if you would like to know more please contact Damian Hampton Director TNS Brisbane on 61-7-38479800 at their Brisbane offices.