Consumers Talk About Their Changed World After 9/11; Wunderman Survey Finds Shifts in Consumer Mood & Attitudes

Oct 04, 2001, 01:00 ET from Wunderman

    NEW YORK, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Wunderman, the world's largest
 direct-to-customer marketing solutions company released a survey today
 examining consumer moods and economic priorities in the aftermath of September
     Wunderman conducted the survey of 1,000 consumers on September 28-30,
 2001, via telephone with the assistance of IPSOS-REID.
     The Current Consumer Mood
     * Overriding Mindset:  A Sense of Gratitude.  Surprisingly, the number one
       consumer attitude uncovered by the study was positive, not negative.
       73% of respondents report feeling "I'm more grateful for what I have"
       since the tragedy took place.  The loss of so much appears to have
       reminded consumers how much they actually have.
     * That said, consumers are still deeply uneasy.  Roughly a third report
       feeling less confident about the future and more fearful for their
       personal safety, and 38% have a greater feeling that they don't like
       "the way life is now."
     * Personal communications and personal finances have swelled in
       importance.  Staying in touch with friends and family has become a
       greater priority.  65% report an increased desire to keep in touch with
       the people they care about since the events of 9/11.  Nearly four in ten
       report worrying more about their finances since the tragedy took place.
     * Consumers are looking for ways to help.  Nearly two thirds report an
       increased desire to help people in need since 9/11, and 60% report an
       increased desire to make a contribution to their country.
     * Young adults seem to have been more strongly affected by events of 9/11.
       Among those 18-34, attitudes shifted more than average on almost all
       measures.  This may be due to the fact that Gen X/GenY consumers have
       never had to deal with the prospect of war as we had during the  Cold
       War or during Vietnam.
     * Surprisingly, there were few regional differences in attitudes.  People
       far from the events had attitudes similar to those in the Northeast.
     What's Important in Evaluating Companies/Brands post 9/11
     * Trust is the new Tech.  It appears that reliability is back.
       Significant percentages of consumers say they are placing higher
       priority on American companies and brands (54%), trustworthy companies
       and brands (45%) and reliable companies/brands (38%).  Few are placing
       more importance on innovative (18%) or high tech (24%) companies or
     * Not surprisingly, consumers are placing greater emphasis on companies
       who are helping the cause.  Large proportions of consumers say "making
       an effort to help out" (63%) and "being involved in the community" (47%)
       are more important now.
     Interest in switching Companies/Brands at this time
     * "A Good Time to Wait."  Consistent with their concerns about their
       finances and the need to stay in touch, vast majorities say they would
       rather wait than change providers in these categories.  80% would prefer
       to put off changing their financial services provider, 76% plan to wait
       on changing their telephone provider, and 68% will wait before changing
       their Internet service provider.
     How appropriate are the different communication channels?
     * Advertising:  Business as Usual, BUT use the phone with respect.  Most
       consumers said there has been no change in the appropriateness of mass
       media (TV, newspaper, magazines and newspapers) as vehicles to sell
       products/services since 9/11.  However, 47% feel the telephone is a less
       appropriate vehicle to sell them something now.  Clearly, consumers
       recognize the personal power of the phone and will appreciate our
       sensitivity in using this channel now.
     Feelings about any specific 9/11 communications received
     * Relatively few consumers (24%) have received personal communications
       from Companies/Brands about the events of 9/11.  The majority (52%) of
       those who have received these communications say it made them feel
       better about the company or brand.  Only 5% say the communication made
       them feel worse.
     Keeping in Tune with The Current Mood
     * Recognize that Thanksgiving this year may be even more important than
       Christmas.  People will want to get together with their families and
       friends and express their gratitude for those relationships; however,
       they may be less willing to travel.  Messages about appreciating and
       protecting what you have, not waiting for tomorrow, and carpe diem, will
       resonate in this environment.
     * Whether you are in the communications business or not, consider ways in
       which your business can help people stay in touch, communicate and come
       together -- even virtually.  Americans need to connect to the people
       they care about more than ever.
     * Find a way to reach out to your younger consumers.  More than most, they
       are actively looking for ways to in which to help.
     Keeping up with Shifting Feelings about Brands
     * Do things to make consumers feel secure and safe with your brand.
       Within reason, it's appropriate to wave the flag and highlight trust and
     * Don't do things to bring their trust in your brand into question.  This
       means not taking advantage of their current concerns and fears for sales
       purposes, or using references to the tragedy to get their attention for
       a sales pitch.
     * Avoid using the tragedy to "tug on the heart strings" if you actually
       have nothing important to add or convey.  This can appear self-serving
       and inappropriate in light of the gravity of the events.
     * If you're going to communicate about the events, be straightforward and
       direct.  If there are any negative effects on your product or service,
       own up to them and tell what you're doing about it.
     Advertising Channels
     * Consumers seem to want things to go back to "selling as usual" in the
       mass media.
     * Recognize the power of private channels such as e-mail and especially
       phone, and use them sensitively and respectfully.  Have a reason to be
       in touch if you choose to use these channels.  For phone selling,
       sensitive scripting is obviously a must.
     Communicating about the Events of 9/11
     * Keep in mind that only a minority of consumers say they have received
       personal communications about the tragedy.  If you have something
       relevant and meaningful to say, it is not too early or too late to reach
       out to your customer base.
     Wunderman is the largest integrated marketing solutions company in the
 world, delivering customer relationship management services to clients through
 more than 80 offices in over 40 countries.  With 4,000 employees worldwide,
 Wunderman combines strategic consulting, data-driven and creative marketing
 services, the Internet, and the latest information technologies to propel and
 measure business results for its clients.  The network devises and deploys
 innovative, customer-centric marketing communications that have at their core
 a sound business rationale and which capitalize on the most relevant media
 channels -- from online and e-mail advertising, through consumer promotion and
 events, to direct mail and DRTV.  In keeping with Lester Wunderman's
 distinguished heritage of innovation and excellence, Wunderman is committed to
 offering employees challenging professional learning opportunities that will
 help educate the future leaders of Direct Marketing.
     Wunderman is a division of Young & Rubicam Inc., a world leader in
 commercial communications, representing a collaborative network of preeminent
 companies at the forefront of the total brand experience.  Young & Rubicam
 Inc. comprises the fields of advertising, perception management and public
 relations, brand identity and design consultancy, database marketing and
 customer relationship management, and health care communications.
 Headquartered in New York, Young & Rubicam ranks among the world's leading
 consolidated marketing communications companies and is a member of the WPP
 Group (Nasdaq:   WPPGY).
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