Monday, September 22, 2008

Research goes responsible

The conversation is changing...rapidly. From obsession with tech to depression over oil...the consumer is talking in terms of social responsibility, global 'issues' moreso than 'opportunities'..and of course the economy.

Someone once said that the stock market didn't cause the Great Depression, the societal depression caused the stock market crash.  Research firm Yankelovich is picking up on the riff that economic anxiety is rapidly moving up for that homgenous tribe known as 'The Consumer". 

Their latest research report, to be released tomorrow, indicates that high anxiety is on the rise. In fact the trend is so pronounced, that Yankelovich is updating all their research through the lens of consumer anxiety.  Some fndings about consumer expectations:

  • Cheaper does not equate to lesser...
  • Expectation for customer service is increasing, arguably out of a sense that the provider of service 'should be grateful for my business'. 
  • Unwilling to lower expectations sets us up for a crossroads.

IF people have learned to assume they are in control, what happens when the economy makes it harder to service that expectation? This is the new responsibility marketplace.

In this marketplace, which is in the process of emerging, the consumer empowerment movement of hte last decade+ becomes a means rather than an end goal. What is the goal? This is individual. It's about:

  • Making touch choices.
  • Pragmatism and practicality
  • Ownership of our challenges.
What is the reaction of the 'iConsumer' to th e realities of economic limits? The research does not see victimization among consumers, despite some of the headlines.

AN interesting finding is that, for those who have severe economic anxiety, the need for 'new' increases...can we assume that thrill seeking behavior will be sought out? Perhpas alcohol and tobacco? It seems we've been here before, but thats a tough call to extrapolate to each of us as 'the consumer'.

Overall, there is also a need for 'real' and 'pure'. People are saying its hard to find trustworthy information (61% asked). We all think we are better than everyone else at things, including idenitfying what's 'truth'. 

Listening to Yankelovich's report, it sounds indeed like the country is depressed. We'll know soon enough whether the chicken or the egg calls the shots. Either way societal acrimony looks to be part of the journey ahead.

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