Inmar Inc. | January 5, 2012

Certain events have a way of causing folks to wax poetic. And the recession that started sometime in 2008 and, arguably, is over now, is one of those events.

From "the New Normal" to "Coupons are Cool" to "Extreme Couponing" this era of frugality has spawned a language all its own. The latest -- and in my view one of the more interesting -- turns of phrase comes from Michael Cross who wrote a piece over at CPGMatters.com about the emergence of "Smart Living."

Cross defines this as a time when "... consumers have taken control of the situation and adopted a lifestyle of 'smart living.' They purposely planned and waited for Black Friday and the savings and value that could be gained."

But whatever label you put on it, something's different.

The mental itch that these monikers are trying to scratch is the essential fact that shoppers aren't approaching their grocery trips the same way as they did in 2007 or even 2008.

Sure, it was about lowest possible cost early on ... in late '08 and early '09 where mass panic was setting in due to what seemed to be an imminent economic collaspe. But after the losses were tallied up and the average shopper started to believe they would live to fight another day, "cheap" turned to "value." And now, with the luxury of time and assessment, it seems, "value" is giving way to "smart."

These aren't just words though; they're the best face that shoppers are putting on the raw, visceral emotion of losing a job, taking huge losses on investments or waking up to piles of debt. And they can't be ignored, especially by marketers.

So how do you sell your brand of soap, toothpaste, canned soup or trash bags to the shopper who's not just looking for a good deal, but actually wants a better life?