LOVE IN THE TIME OF RECESSION
Last month, TIME Moneyland released a list of 12 Thing We Buy in a Bad Economy.
Number One on the list? Romance Novels!
Josh Sanburn writes: During bad times, we want an escape – so Americans often turn to those sordid, steamy paperback novels found on grocery store racks featuring Fabio-like men seducing scantily clad women. During the four years before the recession hit, sales of romance novels were flat, according to romance publisher Harlequin Enterprises. But in 2009, the romance category took off, with overall sales up 7 percent and Harlequin making a $3 million gain year-on-year.
Not surprisingly, even during the Great Depression, when times were much, much harder than they are now (i.e. a 24.9% unemployment rate), 100 million Americans still went to the movies every week to - what else? - escape the bad news at home.
In other words, a bad economy is good for entertainment companies.
Recently, I wrote a post about the Theory of the 1000 True Fans, and how that could help soap fans get their shows back.
We need to form a group of "true fans" committed to buying every soap product on the market. Because, once we demonstrate what the number of fixed buyers is, we can give companies like Prospect Park and Soap Classics hard data with which to plan their next offerings. If they know that they are guaranteed say, $200,000 dollars of sales - minimum - with every soap product they put out, they will adjust accordingly. If sales vary widely from one item to the next, it becomes much harder to plan, and the temptation becomes to chuck the whole thing in favor of something less unpredictable. In a nutshell, if you see a soap product - buy it. It's the only tangible way to make your voice heard. (The cold, hard truth is, a fervid fan only means something to a content producer if they can be converted into income. A fan who can't be converted into income is useless, and thus doesn't "count." Again, we don't have to like it, but we have to be aware of how we're perceived and valued.)
SoapClassics.com, which released the ATWT DVD set last month just announced a special, 5-episode Christmas compendium for the holidays (available separately and as a value pack with the original box set).
Just like with romance novels and escapist movies, if soap fans can demonstrate that they are a solid investment, even - especially! - in tough economic times, they can position themselves as the perfect customer, the kind that can be counted on to buy the product no matter what.
The kind of customer that gets more of what they've been asking for.
History is on our side!