“Insecurity goes upscale,” finds Robert J. Samuelson in this week’s Newsweek magazine dated July 19, 2010, and titled Creativity in America.

The subtext is, “how the recession has changed us.” Samuelson says that this recession has been quite egalitarian in how it’s impacted different economic segments of Americans. In particular, all Americans have gotten more frugal, buying more store brands, cutting vacations short or out altogether (with the ‘staycation’ becoming increasingly common), based on data from a Pew Research Center survey assessing The Great Recession at 30 Months.

Pay cuts or stalls, job losses, declining portfolios of home and market wealth, and college grad kids moving and staying home longer have changed How People Shop, Spend and Save.

I think about this analysis in light of another survey by Ogilvy titled Eyes Wide Open, Wallet Half Shut, published in March 2010. Ogilvy found that in the recession, 9 in 10 Americans are clipping coupons, buying more generic and store brands, and shopping at more discount and dollar stores.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Welcome to the world of health and health care at 30 months into the recession, where health consumers clip coupons (see Walgreen’s $25 coupon for switching Rx’s to the pharmacy chain, along with GSK’s Advair coupon), visit convenient and low-cost retail clinics, and buy store-branded OTCs (like Walmart’s Equate brand) and, of course, generics prescription drugs to bend their personal health care cost curves in the down economy.

Ogilvy found four characteristics embody the post-recession consumer ethos:

  • – Save me money
  • – Keep me healthy
  • – Inspire creativity
  • – Conserve resources.

Together, the message is about personal sustainability.

Note that Samuelson’s article appears in Newsweek’s issue on the crisis in creativity in the U.S. It will take creative solutions to solve the health care crisis, for both the public and the individual. It’s ironic that the article that follows Samuelson is about Microsoft’s health information venture, HealthVault. This is the sort of creative jolt that’s going to help solve health care’s challenges.