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'Gimme BrandShelter'

November 30, 2011
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Leo Burnett’s “BrandShelter” study about American’s view of the economy and the future shows a serious mood change amongst consumers. According to the study, 70% of those polled believe that the recovery is at least two years away. Bernie Pacyniak explains why confectionery companies should take now.



By Bernie Pacyniak
Editor-in-Chief

When I came across a press release discussing Leo Burnett’s “BrandShelter” study about American’s view of the economy and the future, I just couldn’t resist playing with the headline drawn from the 1969 Rolling Stones classic hit.

Although the study isn’t as pessimistic as the song’s lyrics, excluding perhaps the final refrain about love just being a kiss away, it does show a serious mood change amongst consumers. According to the study, 70% of those polled believe that the recovery is at least two years away.

Moreover, about half of those same individuals assert that when the recession does end, it will not signal the beginning of a boon period. But despite such negative, or should we say, realistic views, Americans individually have a more upbeat tune regarding personal spending situations, the study asserts.

"People are ready to escape the depths of a seemingly never-ending recession,” says Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief strategy officer at Leo Burnett. “They're ready to start living again. 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."

The BrandShelter study identified four key findings regarding brands that it said “…marketers should embrace in order to successfully engage with consumers in their current state of mind.” They’re worth noting, since they do have implications for candy makers larger and small.

First, the study says Americans are tired of living a life of simplicity (Mind you, frugality can be a drag) and are looking for a way out, which could be something as grand as a tropical vacation or as small as an indulgent piece of chocolate. Obviously, this represents a sweet opportunity for candy companies. Warning, however, be it large or small, it better be special.

Second, trust is golden. BrandShelter reports that 44% of Americans strongly agree that “you can only trust yourself or those closest to you.” According to Leo Burnett, “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.”

As we all know, confections can be your best friend in a rough world.

Third, learn to market to a generation of “Debbie Downers,” in this case consumers between the ages 18-34. Survey results show that more than one-third of this demographic polled indicated they think the “American Dream” is dead and gone. (Horatio Alger, close your ears!)

This group of non-believers views their parents’ American Dream as an unattainable goal and says, “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.”

The key here, say Leo Burnett, is revamp your marketing approach; these aren’t Baby Boomers. This generation is adapting a “more with less” lifestyle.

And finally, the fourth finding, Americans won’t forego certain “necessities.” Having been forced to reduce “non-essentials” spending, consumers are adamant about dishing out money for what I’d call “keepers,” items such as smartphones, cable TV or …surprise, surprise…candy.

"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."

Confections can do that consistently and affordably. In this instance, life is a box of chocolates.

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