September 19, 2009

As economic woes continue, advertisers have to decide how to deal with the issue of the recession. Some ignore it and find different ways to encourage people to buy in troubled economic times while others put the economic troubles front and center and mention the recession. What strategy actually works is a different issue altogether and the American consumer is mixed about that.

Just over one-quarter of Americans (27%) say advertisements which mention the economic troubles and the recession make the brand seem more manipulative while just under one-quarter (23%) say the advertisements make the brand seem more realistic. Just over one in ten (12%) say these types of advertisements are depressing and make them less likely to purchase the brand. Two in five Americans (39%), however, have no opinion about advertisements which mention the recession.

These are some of the findings of a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll, survey of 2,186 U.S. adults surveyed online between September 25 and 29, 2009 by Harris Interactive.

Different groups have different attitudes on these ads

Different groups have different opinions on advertisements which mention the recession and economic troubles. Men are more likely than women to say these ads make the brand seem more manipulative (29% versus 25%) while women are more likely to believe these ads make the brand more realistic (27% versus 18%).

There are also age differences on ads which use the recession. Those aged 18-34 are more likely than those aged 55 and older to say these types of ads make the brand more realistic (27% versus 18%).

Education and household income are other differentiators on the use of the recession in advertisements. Looking at education, those with a college degree are more likely than those with a high school or less education to have an opinion at all, both believing that the ads make the brand seem more manipulative (31% versus 24%) and make the brand seem more realistic (26% versus 17%). Those who have a household income of less than $35,000 are more likely than those with an income of $75,000 or more to say the ads are depressing and make them less likely to purchase the brand (16% versus 8%). Those with a household income between $50,000 and $74,999 a year are more likely to make a brand more manipulative (32%).

So What?

Advertisers have to walk a fine line with their ads when dealing with the economic issues Americans are currently facing. Do they discuss the recession or pretend it doesn’t exist? We know there are certain tactics which work better than others for addressing the economy (mostly value propositions and luxuries for less), so when it comes to actually mentioning the recession, these tactics should be interwoven so advertisers do not seem to be manipulating the consumer or, even worse, depressing them and leading them to not purchase the brand.

To view charts CLICK above on ‘More Images’.

For more information at http://www.harrisinteractive.com

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