For those of you who are living in the New England area you are well aware that we are in the middle of what is being deemed a major weather event. Actually most living in the United States have been subject to meteorologists’ happy place – massive weather to report on. By some models, Massachusetts might get up to 3 feet in some locations. Ugh. But this is not a piece ranting about the weather…but what I think this storm is a good lesson in is irrational behavior by consumers.
What is always amazing to me is how consumers react once they hear snow storm – make a mad dash for the grocery story and stock up on eggs, bread, water, milk, cured meats and of course alcohol. Really? Are we planning some massive French Toast and wine party? I realize that the threat of a power outage is real so you do want some food on hand – but last I checked milk wouldn’t keep very well without refrigeration. I have heard reports of some grocery stores being sold out of salad and mushrooms. Really? I also know that some keep harking back to the blizzard of 1978 that had some trapped in their homes for days. So one cannot prepare enough!
However is this really rational? It is 2013. We have been aware of the storm for at least a week. Local, state and federal resources are already preparing. At a basic level, will the roads be shut down for days? I highly doubt it. Could we lose power for a few days, of course, but not sure how having enough bread and milk for a small school district solves that issue. What this shows is that as consumers we are not always rational.
A run on generators, snow shovels, blankets, batteries to name a few makes sense. But salad and mushrooms? How does that make any sense?
As you try to determine your customers’ demand and you have a major event that might drive consumption, be aware that as consumers we are not always rational!