Blog: Dean BestHigh spirits in the low countries defy global downturn

Dean Best | 8 August 2008

They're a cheery bunch, those Dutch.

Whether it's the vibrant support of the country's football fans, or the relaxed atmosphere of the country's capital Amsterdam, there is definitely something of a joie de vivre about the Dutch.

They're also apparently pretty relaxed about the global economic downturn. According to research giants Nielsen, the Netherlands is one of the few countries where consumer confidence is on the rise. Over the last six months, consumer confidence has risen by 5%: only the Taiwanese are more optimistic.

Alas, that confidence is in short supply around the world. Nielsen research claims that global consumer confidence has fallen to a record low, with 56% of online consumers believing their country is in a recession.

Alongside New Zealanders and Latvians, it seems the biggest pessimists are in the US. Consumer confidence across the pond is at its lowest level since 1992 and the days of Clinton's refrain: “It's the economy, stupid.”

As we've seen with the problems at Whole Foods, non-discount retailers are “feeling the pinch”, according to Nielsen. Private-label sales are growing but only as commodity cost rises fuel inflation; volume sales have dipped slightly.

All is not doom and gloom however, says Nielsen. “There are opportunities in a slowing economy to lead the recovery,” the researchers say. “Category-specific opportunities exist to maximise in-store efforts. For products that are performing strong and showing immunity during a recession, manufacturers and retailers in these industries have the opportunity to increase product exposure even further.

“For products at the other end of the spectrum, companies would be well-advised to target their marketing efforts to shore up performance and maintain traction during tough times.

“Now is the time to plan for recovery.”


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