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Selling in a Necessity Market: What it Means for Your Business

The fervor of home-buying is slowing down. Gas prices are still high. Last week's grocery bill made you choke on your gum at the self-checkout.

The rumors are true, folks. The economy is slowing. Inflation is here. But despite all of this, you may not have noticed a big change in the social media campaigns and ads you've seen heading into the holidays. I'm here to suggest that YOU need to be on the forefront- the cutting edge, if you will- of implementing new strategies in your marketing campaigns heading into what is known as a Necessity Market.

Sidebar: What the hell is a Necessity Market?

Okay, listen. I'm not an economist, alright? I'm just a girl with a Sociology degree and a small business. A girl with a worrisome addiction to podcasts and an unquenchable thirst for improving my trivia game.

So, on a very simple, amateur level, a necessity market just means that inflation is palpable, and people are being more conscientious and cautious with how (and where!) they spend their money. The good news is you don't need to take it from me. Click the link above for a simple rundown on Necessity vs. Luxury, and also consider checking out this episode of the Undefeated Marketing podcast with Philip Stutts. (And then, if you're a nerd like me, download this PDF of his report: The Impact of Inflation on Consumer Spending.)

Marketing a Luxury Business in a Necessity Market

Alright. You've effectively figured out that your small business doesn't exactly fit the bill to be deemed a "necessity." Maybe you provide a luxury service like boudoir photography, makeup artistry, or even, ahem, wedding planning.

All hope is not lost, people. Quite the opposite, in fact. If you have a keen understanding of who your ideal audience is, you will be able to determine what to say to them that will keep them coming back for more of whatever it is that you've got.

In great financial times, it's easy to market. Everyone's purse strings are a little looser, they're feeling happy, confident, and secure in where they're at financially. You market to the fun side of your business, the luxurious (maybe even frivolous!) side of your business. And it works like a charm. Not because you're that good at marketing (sorry) but because your product or service makes people feel even better when they're already in a really good place.

The real test is marketing in an economy where people are feeling a little more strapped. They're nervous about where the economy could go, and they're being more cautious about all of the fun, "frivolous" spending they don't typically think twice about in a luxury market.

So how do you appeal to people when they're not feeling confident financially? How do you convince them that your service is worth the investment, even though maybe, technically, they could go without?

  1. Believe in What You're Selling. Firmly, staunchly, confidently and consistently. No one knows your product or service like you do. You must know the value of what it is that you're offering. You must believe in it. You must be able to clearly communicate why it will make your audiences life better.

  2. Find The Why. Why should someone invest in your product or service, specifically during a period of inflation? What specific benefit will what you're selling provide for your ideal customer? Will it somehow save them time, money, or a massive migraine? Lean into that in your marketing and copywriting strategy.

  3. Be Empathetic. Let's be clear- I am most definitely not asking you to lie to your audience. Absolutely do not use untruths or mislead the very people you want to sell to. Just because you want to market to them does not mean you want to trick them. Learn this. Understand this. Abide by this. Always. My personal brand in the world of marketing is to rely heavily on transparency. To be authentic, immaculate, and sincere with my word. Marketing might be how we sell but relying on authenticity and empathy is how we gain trust and build a community. If you truly believe in what you're selling, and understand its value, you should be able to authentically and empathetically create a marketing campaign that leans into those values.

Feel free to click here to view a recent Instagram post in which I leaned into just one of the many values that the wedding and event planning side of my business offers. And if you're interested in learning more, or perhaps even join a new community for women in business that we will be launching in the new year, send an email to

x | kirsten

Cover Image by The Smiths, 2022.

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