Consumers Get Real

Sep 27, 2002
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Terrorist attacks, a struggling economy and scandals involving everyone from CEOs to the clergy have many wondering which way is up. The result according to an Orlando Sentinel piece is “the public is retrenching — shunning some spending and turning more toward family and spirituality.”

That Americans are looking for substance over style was made clear from the findings of the latest Yankelovich Monitor shared with an audience of marketing professionals at this week’s Orlando Advertising Federation conference.

Elizabeth Thompson, associate director, Yankelovich said, “There are some very real economic constraints, so people have to make better choices with what they are doing with the money in their wallet. Folks also have high expectations. They like to be satisfied.”

The study found:

  • Seventy-six percent of respondents are looking to reduce their personal stress levels.

  • Seventy-three percent believe that integrity is more important than financial success. This was up from 58 percent three years ago according to Ms. Thompson.

Moderator’s Comment: Will the economic, social and
political events of the past few years have a lasting effect on what consumers
buy and how they shop?

The Orlando Sentinel article reported that consumers
have “had it with SUVs, fad diets and trendy restaurants. They’re turning up
their noses at $75-a-jar anti-aging creams, $4 cups of gourmet coffee and pet
foods that are pricier than people food.” We can not speak with absolute certainty
on all of these categories of products, but sales of SUVs, fad diet products
and gourmet coffee seem to be doing quite well from where we’re sitting.

There’s no doubt that the events of the past few years
have had a sobering effect on many, if not most, Americans. That said, we’re
probably only a renewed economic expansion plus a few removed dictators and
terrorists away from getting back to our old selves. That’s a good thing, right?
Anderson – Moderator

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