Yankelovich's J. Walker Smith on the State of the Consumer Mind-set
So far, the legislation passed by Congress to bail out the financial services sector has provided only a marginal amount of comfort to consumers. The markets continue to see-saw, reports on the economic climate point to the need for more belt-tightening and consumers nervously wait to see how deep this financial trouble will go.
To get a sense of how current times are affecting the consumer marketplace, and thus marketers, Target Marketing Tipline talked to J. Walker Smith, Ph.D., president of Yankelovich, a consumer research firm with its headquarters in Chapel Hill, N.C. Here, he offers his insights on what consumers are thinking and how that translates to the marketing messages they will find appropriate in the coming months.
Target Marketing: What does current research say about the state of the consumer mood?
J. Walker Smith: We will have some research coming out soon, but we don't have our own data on it yet. However, we used to do polling for TIME and CNN ... they still use some of the same questions that we used for a long time. I just saw today that the question that we [used to] ask about how people feel things are going is at the lowest [indicator] that has ever been tracked in 34 years of doing that poll. So the consumer mood is pretty sour these days, actually, and I think Yankelovich's research is going to show that, too.
We have been doing some tracking over the course of this year of people's worries about their personal finances - it's a little economic anxiety scale that we've created. People have been worried all year; their worries have been bouncing around a little bit. I suspect when we get the latest data back, we're going to see pretty high levels of economic anxiety. There's no question that all of this economic turmoil is unnerving consumers …