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How to Market to Middle-Class Consumers

The middle class is scaling back, but you need not pay the price.

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This story appears in the December 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Ultra-luxe companies like Coach and LVMH Moét Hennessy Louis Vuitton are reporting strong 2006 sales. But in the mass-market luxury arena, disappointing earnings from upscale companies like Chinese eatery P.F. Chang's China Bistro and natural grocer Whole Foods may indicate that middle-class consumers who have been trading up are starting to trade down to more affordable purchases. "Consumers in general are becoming more cautious with their everyday spending," says Ken Goldstein, an economist with The Conference Board, a business research and membership organization.

So if you're a retailer targeting middle class shoppers, how can you preserve sales? Retail expert George Whalin, author of Retail Success: Increase Sales, Maximize Profits and Wow Your Customers in the Most Competitive Marketplace in History, says not to fret--there's still growth within the retail sector. As middle-class consumers cut back, Whalin advises you to:

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