In the News
CIES 51st World Food Business Summit , June 20-22, 2007, Mapping the New Silk Road
The Annual "rendez-vous" of food business leaders who understand that anticipating the future is the key to success. Executives who influence the strategies of their companies and the business they are in: retailer and supplier CEOs and top management, suppliers' senior sales and marketing management. Michael will be presenting Treasure Hunt and the bifurcation of consumer markets.
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The Economist, 5/20/06, “The Disappearing Mid-Market”
Michael Silverstein explains how today's middle-class shoppers are not content to be marooned in mediocrity. These consumers, who earn between $50,000-150,000, are "trading up and trading down" both at the same time, a change described in great detail in Mr. Silverstein's new book "Treasure Hunt: Inside the Mind of the New Consumer". “In this bifurcated market, firms in the middle need to move either up- or down-market or face death in the middle.”
Consultant News, 5/18/06, “BCG: Cheap is Good”
A new survey commissioned by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) illuminates the increasingly important role that smart shopping and savvy bargain hunting ("treasure hunting") play in Americans' lives. The findings confirm not only that Americans approach shopping and the quest for low-priced, quality goods -- treasures -- as a sport and an avocation, but also that new patterns of spending and "treasure hunting" enable them to live better, balance their budgets, improve family life and satisfy emotional needs.
Shoestring Marketing, 5/15/06, “It's Official! Trading Down is the New Cool” by Alf Nucifora
Michael Silverstein advises marketers to leverage the emotional side of spending by creating a regular cycle of innovation for premium-priced, “trading up” products, or by relentlessly driving down costs while still offering a product that's good, satisfying and appealing. “The new cheap is not just cheap; it's good.”
National Jeweler, 5/11/06, “New Book Says Consumers Save by Treasure Hunting”
Knowledge@Wharton, 5/10/06, “Death in the Middle: Why Consumers Seek Value at the Top and Bottom of Markets”
There has been a revolution over the last 15 years in consumer products and retailing and it is largely driven by women. In a Q&A with The Chicago Tribune, Michael Silverstein discusses how women entering the workforce in greater numbers, earning parity wages, and, in most cases, being responsible for 100% of discretionary family income are the primary forces behind the new consumer economy. Further, Michael predicts that by the year 2030 the average woman will earn more than the average man.
Though women may still earn less than men - for now - they have a larger say over household spending on consumer goods. Michael Silverstein, author of the best-selling book "Trading Up," argues in his sequel "Treasure Hunt" (Penguin, 2006), that women are using that spending power to trade down nearly twice as often as they trade up.
Across the Board, 5/1/06 “Questioning Authority: An interview with Michael Silverstein,” by Matthew Budman
In a Q&A with Matthew Budman, Michael Silverstein discusses how companies are dealing with the new consumer who buys staples at low-price havens such as Dollar General and luxury items on eBay.
Women' s Wear Daily, 4/26/06 “Consumers Finding Satisfaction, For Less,” by Valerie Seckler
Given the primal choice of fight or flight when confronted with the stresses of today's world, a significant number of women are doing neither. Rather, they are responding by seeking adventure, engaging in what Michael Silverstein terms a treasure hunt for a combination of good value, superior performance and emotional satisfaction.
Brandweek, 5/1/06 “Book Excerpt: Treasure Hunt”
Marketwatch.com, 5/16/06, “Consultant: How Women Shop Today”
Fox & Friends, 5/5/06, “Do Women Control Household Spending?”
Harvard Business Review
We all know that middle-class consumers are the latest luxury shoppers. This doesn't mean, though, that they're not interested in a good bargain. In this lively new book, Michael Silverstein, coauthor of Trading Up, and his colleague John Butman take a look at the growing appetite of middle-class consumers for cut-price goods in cut-price surroundings. The consumer market, according to Silverstein, is "bifurcating," and firms positioned in the middle of the market-including even companies like Wal-Mart-are vulnerable to new entrants from both the luxury end and the discount end.
Of course, the idea that it's dangerous to be caught in the middle is hardly new. But Treasure Hunt offers something more, a notion that emerges through the descriptions of individual consumers that form the book's backbone, and which provide the real reason to read it. Many large companies, Silverstein points out, assume that customers' demographics are good indicators of their consumption behavior. Purchasing decisions, though, are driven by hopes, loves, experiences, and fears-factors that can never be captured through surveys. Silverstein's sketches reveal these emotions very skillfully, and the reader is brought squarely into the lives of the people he describes—such as Peter Kim, an artist-waiter worried that his friends are leaving him behind, or 30-something Lauren James, attractive, educated, and terrified of being alone.
What emerges is a picture of the middle-class consumer as treasure hunter (hence the book's title). And the treasure can just as easily be a carton of eggs purchased at Aldi as a bra bought at
Treasure Hunt will probably increase your respect for your customers, which is reason enough to read it. If it also persuades you to spend a few days in person with the fascinating and thoughtful individuals you want to buy your products, then you can probably skip most of the other business books that will be published this year.
In their bestselling Trading Up, Silverstein and Neil Fiske explained why people are willing to spend beyond their means for certain premium goods. But that's only half the story: as middle-class customers splurge on lingerie and appliances, they're bargain-hunting for everything else. Companies will thrive, Silverstein argues, by catering to the penny-pinching impulses of consumers, or by "spanning the poles" and appealing to both the high and low ends while avoiding anything else-there's only "death in the middle." The book's profiles of individuals who splurge-and-scrimp and case studies of companies that have successfully adapted to the polarization of the marketplace show the key to survival is to offer the perception of good value for money and an emotionally satisfying experience. This is where the book becomes a tad creepy: Silverstein analyzes female consumers' relationships with their mothers and attributes an advertising executive's "lack of a father's love, a social-climbing mother and several failed relationships" as causes of her binge-spending and scrimping. Silverstein's guide to cashing in on the top and the bottom is intelligent without becoming mercenary; business owners will take notice.
Silverstein (senior v.p., Boston Consulting Group, coauthor with Neil Fiske, Trading Up: Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods-and How Companies Create Them) and Butman (Juran) have produced essential reading for those who currently work in marketing or are marketing majors in college. Engaging and loaded with statistics and interviews with consumers and CEOs, the text provides an excellent inside look into how today's consumers are embarking on "treasure hunts" for quality products at reasonable prices. While Trading Up noted the trend of middle-class consumers pursuing high-end goods, here the authors study consumers who will go on "treasure hunts" for low-end items as well, at such stores as Costco and Wal-Mart. They trade up or down to obtain the goods and services they want at the price they desire. As a result, many notable companies have changed their product lines and repositioned themselves in the marketplace to meet new challenges and increase their market share. The authors look at such examples as Aldi, LG, and Dollar General, to name just a few, and point out that other companies, e.g., Sears, Ford, and General Motors, who pursue neither the well-packaged bargain nor the inspiring luxury presentation, continue to lose market share owing to their "middle" position in the marketplace. This book should be part of any corporate or academic library as well as any public library business collection.-Diane Fulkerson,
“Many shoppers have always been careful. But as economic uncertainties and the demands of the consumer lifestyle grow, businesses do need to steel themselves for smarter, nimbler consumers on the lookout for treasure. The companies that win will have displayed a clear treasure map at the front door.”
From Knight Ridder
“There is a treasure trove of premium advice and valuable information in "Treasure Hunt" for anyone in any business...”
From Financial Times
“…businesses need to steel themselves for smarter, nimbler consumers on the lookout for treasure. The companies that win will have displayed a clear treasure map at the front door.”
From Jack Covert Selects
“…As a merchant, I recommend this book.”
From Book List
“Silverstein lays out in detail what companies must do today to appeal to the "treasure hunt"… not only with anecdotal evidence but also a considerable amount of data that you would expect from a veteran from the Boston Consulting Group.”
From HBS Working Knowledge
“Treasure Hunt is very well written and ultimately convincing in its thesis…”
From Douglas R. Conant, President and CEO, Campbell Soup Company
“The real treasure here is the thinking of Michael Silverstein…Powerfully insightful and approachable.”