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How to Create a Product That Sells Itself (Even in A Recession) When recession looms and inflation spikes, customers can be slightly anxious about spending. Here's how to ensure your target audiences that you have a must-have product or service.

By Kimberly Zhang

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Consumers might not be putting the brakes on their spending. However, they're certainly letting up on the gas.

According to Deloitte's most recent State of the US Customer report, around 75% of buyers remain concerned about prices. This is nine fewer percentage points than seven months prior. Nevertheless, it's still a reason for company leaders to take notice. And with 47% of people worried about their savings, consumers could quickly tighten their purse strings.

There's a shiny silver lining, though: As long as your product is needed, you can expect sales. Think about what happened in 2020. Shoppers didn't stop purchasing items they considered "must-haves," including home gym tech, machines, and accessories. This caused a lasting trend that's pushed the expected CAGR of the fitness equipment market to 5.2% until 2028.

So what does this mean for your product or service lineup? You need to make sure that you are providing something that seems necessary to target users. "Seems" is the operative word. Were Pelotons necessary during pandemic shutdowns? Not from Maslow's hierarchy of needs perspective. But don't tell that to the customers who pushed the brand toward the billion-dollar revenue mark.

Related: This Is the Framework to Make Your Product a Smash Success

To help you review and revise your marketing in a do-without economy, take these recommendations into consideration.

1. Solve a recession-proof need

People change their behaviors during recessions and near-recessions. Nevertheless, the dad who switches to generic grocery labels may still buy his kiddo the more expensive bike. Why? Maybe it has earned higher safety marks. Perhaps it's the same brand as the one he rides. Either way, he views the higher bike investment as necessary because he can justify it.

Take a moment to think about what your company sells. What recession-proof need could it satisfy? You may want to work backward to come up with an "Aha!" answer. CitizenShipper, for instance, connects private drivers willing to move pets and precious items across the nation for people interested in bypassing the big shipping companies. One of the biggest requests the company fulfills is the need for reliable, personalized ground transportation of pets. When pet parents need to relocate their pets, they will pay a reasonable price in order to be able to do so.

While you're undergoing this exercise, don't be afraid to think about niches within your current target customer base. With a little digging, you may be able to uncover smaller consumer segments that would see your offerings as a must-have. Once those segments are identified, you can begin marketing to them.

Related: 3 Tips for Using Consumer Data to Create More Personalized Experiences

2. Go for the feels

We'd like to think that we make purchasing decisions solely based on objectivity, data and logic. We don't. Our brains are wired to take the information into account but add a modicum of emotion to the mix. With that in mind, head back to the drawing board regarding your sales and support. The more of an emotional connection you can make with leads, the more likely they will return.

One way to add more of an emotional link between you and your customers is with personalization. About seven out of 10 people told McKinsey they wanted more personalized engagement with their preferred brands. Your job, then, is to find ways to make the customer journey more of an individualized experience.

Are you looking for inspiration for personalizing a product or service? Check out Sephora. The company has consistently won kudos for its personalization machine. You can book an appointment online with a conversational "assistant." You can find the right foundation shade in the store using Sephora's software. You can become an Insider and get extra rewards. It's personalization all over — and that's why Sephora, which isn't "need to have, "is still seeing incredible revenue growth.

Don't instantly picture that your team will need to babysit every email or text. You can leverage tech tools that integrate with your existing systems to make interactions feel more one-to-one. That way, you don't have to exhaust your human resources to offer up Sephora-level personalization.

Related: Why People Buy What They Buy

3. Explain your value-added differentiators

Now isn't the time to hold back on all the differentiators that set you apart from your competition. The more value you can bring to consumers, the more likely they'll be to pick your products over others'. For best outcomes, make sure that the differentiators you pick matter.

Case in point: If you sell socks, you could point out the many benefits your socks provide. These could include added cushioning, reinforced heels, moisture-wicking qualities, quick-dry technology, etc.

For the past few years, Chipotle has been a solid case study for the power of differentiation. Its growth continues into 2023, despite other fast food chains like Burger King losing their luster. Chipotle's key to remaining a top pick for hungry eaters is a mixture of picking top ingredients, making everything fresh and offering flavor consistency.

Related: Why Your Business Idea Should Sell Itself

Want to dive deeper into your differentiators and perhaps uncover some you didn't know were important? Consider surveying your employees and customers. A well-written survey can highlight what matters most so you can lead with it in future "here's why we're the ONLY choice" campaigns.

Even if inflation causes prices to creep upward more, consumers will still spend money. Your diligence and strategic planning today could ensure that some of their disposable income goes toward your products and services.

Kimberly Zhang

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Chief Editor of Under30CEO

Kimberly Zhang, president and editor in chief of Under30CEO, has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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