Elastic and Inelastic Demand

This content first appeared in INBOX INSIGHTS on June 2, 2021:


One of the aspects of the pandemic that we don’t consider enough as marketers is whether our demand is elastic or inelastic. First, let’s define what this means. Elasticity in demand is changes in demand based on things like supply and availability, price, consumer tastes, income, and other factors that ultimately decide whether a consumer chooses to buy or not buy.

In classical macroeconomics, elasticity is often measured as demand vs. price; the higher you raise your prices, the fewer customers will buy your stuff (and the more they’ll go looking for competing, cheaper alternatives). However, price is only one dimension of elasticity. Right now, we’re facing an entirely different dimension: buyer availability.

The pandemic forced many, many lifestyle changes on us, and as the world rolls out vaccines, we’re starting to see buyers come back. Elastic demand is demand that snaps back; once people are vaccinated, demand for things like vacations and cruises will substantially increase for a period of time as people make good on deferred purchases.

That said, some demand is inelastic; it doesn’t change, doesn’t snap back. For example, if you’re a coffee shop and your customers stayed home for 6 months, they did not defer 6 months’ worth of coffee and they won’t come back to your shop to buy 180 coffees all at once. No, those who come back will resume buying their daily beverage; this is an example of inelastic demand.

As we vaccinate more of the world, demand for some things will indeed snap back. Demand for other things may not; some employees are demanding the ability to keep working from home. That may permanently impact commercial real estate as companies decide how much cost savings they can extract by reducing their physical workspace footprint.

The big question we have to ask ourselves? Is our demand elastic or inelastic, and by how much?

Pay careful attention to unbranded search in your category – that will be a strong indicator of demand elasticity in your space.

If your demand is inelastic, you must increase your marketing efforts to not only continue attracting new audiences but recapture as much of your old audience as possible.

If your demand is elastic, you must increase your marketing efforts to capture as much of that pent-up demand as possible before competitors do or the demand fades. You’re competing against time itself, against the money customers saved in their wallets and budgets – and every competitor wants your share of the pie.


Need help with your marketing AI and analytics?

You might also enjoy:

Get unique data, analysis, and perspectives on analytics, insights, machine learning, marketing, and AI in the weekly Trust Insights newsletter, INBOX INSIGHTS. Subscribe now for free; new issues every Wednesday!

Click here to subscribe now »

Want to learn more about data, analytics, and insights? Subscribe to In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast, with new episodes every Wednesday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This