New Study by Leo Burnett Unveils Key Marketing Strategies to Reach Today's Consumer

Americans Skeptical About Economic Future, Optimistic About Personal Spending Power

Nov 28, 2011, 12:10 ET from Leo Burnett

CHICAGO, Nov. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a new study released by Leo Burnett, seven out of 10 Americans believe that economic recovery is still more than two years away. Furthermore, 50 percent of Americans believe that once the recession ends, our economy will not come booming back. The study – "BrandShelter" – further reveals that while people are skeptical about the nation's economic recovery, when it comes to their own personal spending situations, they're more optimistic.

"People are ready to escape the depths of a seemingly never-ending recession. They're ready to start living again," said Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, Chief Strategy Officer of Leo Burnett. "This transformational shift in the American mindset provides brands and marketers with a unique opportunity to serve as a bonafied recession cure, offering people a way back, in some respect, to their pre-recession life."

BrandShelter identified four key findings brands and marketers should embrace in order to successfully engage with consumers in their current state of mind.

  • AMERICANS ARE TIRED OF LIVING "THE SIMPLE LIFE." THEY WANT TO BE WHISKED AWAY. Americans are tired of living a life of simplicity and are looking for a way out. This shift away from frugality provides a clear opportunity for marketers and brands to capitalize on the need to escape the recession and spend money on coveted items and experiences – things people indulged in before the recession - something as big as a tropical vacation and as small as a vanilla latte.
  • CONSUMERS TO BRANDS: BE MY NEW BFF. As difficult times linger, 44 percent of Americans strongly agree that you can only trust yourself and those closest to you. People's diminished trust has upped the likelihood of taking a variety of things into their own hands in order to help them through the dreary economic times. Given this dynamic, brands have an opportunity to become a welcomed extension of people's daily lives and go beyond their product offering. Brands and marketers should aim to support this newfound self-reliance by helping people take on more things successfully, fostering a can-do attitude and bolstering confidence.
  • LEARN HOW TO MARKET YOUR BRAND TO A GENERATION OF "DEBBIE DOWNERS." For the next generation of consumers, the age old American Dream doesn't exist anymore. According to our research, 36 percent of Americans ages 18-34 believe the "American Dream" is dead and gone. This group of non-believers views their parents' American Dream as an unattainable goal and say being happy and fulfilled takes a back seat to having a stable job, paying the bills, affording necessities and having a little money left over for fun. Even the satisfaction of owning a home – one of the most common characteristics associated with the old American Dream – is no longer a priority to this generation. This extreme mindset and pessimism is on track to trigger a permanent "more with less" lifestyle and could result in a dead end for marketers of historical proportions. To survive in this weakened economy, don't fool yourself into thinking you're marketing to their parents, because you're not.
  • I NEED YOU. I WANT YOU. I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT YOU. Since the recession, Americans have deemed certain types of products "non-essential" to their daily lives forcing manufacturers to deeply discount products and leaving marketers in a dead zone. So what are the products and experiences Americans consider essential and non-essential? According to our research, gas, smartphones, cable TV and even candy were items Americans deemed "essential" during a recession. Some of the non-essential items included snack foods, downloading music, shoes and magazines. To position your product as a "need," marketers should aim to inspire happiness, encourage life enrichment or growth, connect products to a higher quality of life and position products as something that makes life run more smoothly.


"There is a silver lining for brands - in that the trend of setting aside materialism and rediscovering simplicity is slowly disappearing and recession fatigue among Americans is rising," said Hahn-Griffiths. "It's time for brands to change the way they participate with people - and enhance the understanding of how they're relevant to life as it exists today."

To view the complete findings from the study, "BrandShelter" please visit, and click "Download the Whitepaper."

The Leo Burnett Group "BrandShelter" Methodology
Between July 2009 and May 2011, Leo Burnett conducted a nationwide quantitative survey interviewing 2,200 American adults. The research initiative focused on how Americans were dealing with the unfolding recession and examined their current mindset including how they feel about the economy, how they feel about their own prospects and how they are likely to behave as consumers.

About Leo Burnett Company, Inc.
Leo Burnett Worldwide ( is one of the world's largest agency networks and the parent company of Leo Burnett and its marketing services arm, Arc Worldwide. Leo Burnett, a HumanKind communications company, has a simple and singular approach: put a brand's purpose at the center of communications to truly connect with people. Leo Burnett, one of the most awarded creative communications companies in the world, creates "Acts, not just Ads," for some of the world's most valuable brands including The Coca-Cola Company, Kellogg, McDonald's, Hallmark, P&G, Allstate and Nintendo.

SOURCE Leo Burnett