While it used to be that the majority of people, whether rich or poor, saw themselves as middle class, now, almost 40% of adults define themselves as lower-income (Iconoculture, 2014). This class shift has lead to a cultural mind-shift. Certain behaviors that were traditionally thought of as “low-income activities”, such as DIY projects and buying from dollar stores, have gone mainstream. Even pop culture has caught on with musicians shifting their lyrics from a focus on big cars and bling to thrift shops and never becoming royals.
All this adds up to a surge among retailers and brands targeting this group. The discount channel is growing exponentially, with stores such as Dollar General expecting to open as many as 700 stores in 2014. Check checking and payday-loan stores, which often serve the financial needs of low-income consumers, outnumber Starbucks and McDonalds. Even brands that have traditionally targeted high-income consumers are changing their tune. American Express has done a great job expanding what was once an exclusive membership to include low-income consumers through its prepaid card products like American Express Serve or Bluebird by American Express and Wal-Mart.
American Express is an example of a brand that approaches the low-income audience the right way. From offering straightforward and convenient prepaid card fees that appeal to the audience’s desire for simplicity to leveraging the greater community through short-films like Spend, the brand is making an effort to connect with low-income consumers in a real way. What are some other ways that retailers and brands have appealed to low-income consumers?
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