As I sit writing this article, I am listening to the radio and a commercial that makes my ears perk up. There is actually an ad on the radio promoting personal "lubricants" from a website. I had to ask my friend, do you ever recall hearing ads for these products on the radio during peak family listening times? Neither of us can recall anything quite so blatant as an "intimate" product being broadcast during early evening hours. However, we had also noticed something different at our local "big box" discount store. The store now sells a whole variety of sexual aids, including condoms, lubricants and personal massagers. Walmart offers them too. Walgreen now features a special section of their website devoted to "Sexual Wellness." Obviously, there has been a subtle shift.
Intrigued by these facts, as well as the inclusion of "coupons" for some of the above items in my recent, Los Angeles Times, I felt the need to do some investigating. So, I turned to that source of all good recession data, the trusty Google search engine. Some interesting facts turned up. It seems people are looking for some basic comforts during this time of economic crisis. And they are finding comfort in those age-old pleasures of intimacy, chocolate and wine.
As the number of laid-off American workers grows, personal ads on Craig's list are at an all time high. A recent article in Marie Claire magazine noted: "The number of personals in Craig's list's 'Casual Encounters' section jumped from 1.4 million in September 2007 to 3.1 million in September 2008. Here's an example of one Craig's list ad: 'Recession, economy got you down? ... One way I've found to ALLEVIATE this stress I'm feeling is XxXX...'" (the expletives in this post have been deleted to protect the innocent readers of HuffPost.) Another, and now famous post from website Gawker noted, "Just got laid off, now looking to get laid." It doesn't get more honest than that.
Craig's list and website personal postings are not the only way people are hooking up in this recession. Membership in online dating sites is steadily growing. eHarmony and Match.com have reported a steady increase in profits. Both sites experienced a 20 percent increase in registrations during 2008. Match.com memberships were 22 percent higher in December than during the same period last year. And eHarmony and Match.com reported especially high traffic on days when the stock market plummeted.
Online dating and personal products are now being touted as "recession proof." But it seems the biggest recession-proof consumer product is good old Hershey's chocolate. Chocoholics are coming out of the woodwork and running straight for their chocolate in large numbers.
Hershey reported fourth-quarter net income of $82.2 million, or 36 cents a share, up 51% from $54.3 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier. (Source: The Wall Street Journal and Hershey's annual report). Of special interest to me is the fact that at gas stations and convenience stores where people may be feeling the stress of rising gas and food prices, the lower-priced Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey's chocolate bars and Kit Kat wafers are selling at a rapid rate. Forget the Truffles and the Godiva, let me have a good old Kit Kat bar!
It seems Kit Kat , a product of the Great Depression is having a resurgence. It was developed in 1935. It's the original tough economic times "comfort food." As you're reading this, are you craving chocolate right now? I know I am. And as a self-proclaimed recessionista, I love the low price point of Hershey's chocolate. Truly a cheap and cheerful treat.
And nothing goes with Recession like a good bottle of wine. Searching out great bottles of wine at economical prices has become a regular feature on my blog. There are regular wine blogs that feature weekly specials on "recession" wines priced at an affordable cost.
So where is all this leading? Quite simply people are feeling more vulnerable than ever, and one of the best ways to minimize stress and anxiety is seeking comfort in being with friends and lovers. This may be the one upside of the downturn. Perhaps we will all learn to reach out to others a bit more, rediscover simple pleasures and become more selective in our relationships. After all, no one has extra money any more to date people that they aren't "clicking" with. The recession may just prove to be one of the best ways to refine our tastes, strengthen our relationships and perhaps rediscover old friends.