Decode the ‘Escape Artist’

Maria Reitan
Maria Reitan

There’s a good-time gal looking for products that offer her fun and frivolity. She’s the “Escape Artist,” focused on the “now” and willing to make a spontaneous purchase. But communicators need to tread carefully. This woman is grappling with something a bit sinister lurking under her happy-go-lucky façade. Carmichael Lynch Spong recently fielded proprietary research to answer the question, “How are women emerging from the Great Recession?” We found that women, after dealing with the implications of the recession for at least five years, were coping with their new normal in three distinctly different ways.

Most women had a dominant coping mindset, along with an evident secondary mindset. We termed these mindsets the “Creative Controller,” “Connection Craver” and “Escape Artist.”

Last September, I wrote about the Connection Craver. This is a woman who is overwhelmed by choices; so much so that she turns to her very close friends and family for advice on practically anything and everything.

The Creative Controller has a positive outlook on life. She feels empowered to pull herself up by her own bootstraps and believes that if anyone can improve her lot in life, she can.

In the final article, I present the Escape Artist, who is quite different from the other two mindsets. While those other women see hope in their future, the Escape Artist sees only darkness at the end of her economic tunnel. Her actions are a testament to that belief as she focuses on living and buying in the here-and-now:

On (permanent) vacation.

The Escape Artist is perpetually on vacation, if only in her mind. While she values the long weekend during a weeklong getaway, she treats just a few hours as mini vacations. Whether it’s hitting the deck in her sun chair or shopping for groceries at night to avoid the crowds, she craves escape.

Escape is imperative.

While it may seem like she’s just seeking a few harmless moments to herself, think again. The Escape Artist says these minutes of me-time keep the demons away. Afraid of slipping into depression, the majority “escapes” daily (57%). And while the Connection Craver is all about friends and family, the Escape Artist goes solo, seeking refuge alone.

Indulging is commonplace.

As you might suspect, this mindset indulges as a means of escape. Not surprisingly, the Escape Artist has the largest shopping cart of the three, as these mini-indulgences are assimilated into her daily routine. Dark chocolate, coffee-shop coffee and fashion items are quick fixes. Even if it costs more, the instant gratification makes it worthwhile.

Connecting with the Escape Artist. As we roll into summer knowing the Escape Artist has her shopping cart at the ready, how can you make sure your brand makes a connection?

• Ensure your brand is in all the right escapist places. This woman escapes through social sharing on social sites, gaming, in-book and in-store. She’s looking for infotainment and loves to shop, even if she has nothing specific on her list.

• Help her dream. We know she may be in the planning stage for longer than the other mindsets, especially for larger purchases. Engage her in this stage, fostering brand experience as she dreams. If your brand is more instantly attainable, show her how your product can transport her by sparking her imagination and sense of adventure. These are big purchase motivators.

• Place your product prominently. Drive her spontaneous purchase tendencies by putting your product in-aisle, on end caps, and anywhere she may pull the “drive-by shopping cart” move.

• Engage her with humor. We heard it from our girlfriend groups and saw it in our survey responses. Intellectual humor is appreciated here. She likes the kind of messages that make her think, make her laugh and transport her, even for a minute, to a delightful place.

The Escape Artist comprises 30% of our mindset population. So while she may appear extreme, she’s fairly ensconced in the mainstream. Think of her as the woman who listens to that devil on her shoulder and help her feed the instant gratification beast. PRN



Maria Reitan is senior principal and chair, lifestyle marketing and marketing to women for Carmichael Lynch Spong. She can be reached at

This article originally appeared in the April 14, 2014 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.