Turn And Face The Strain

AdWeek Media and Harris conducted a poll in which it found that 63% of respondents consider themselves to be more savvy as a consumer since the economic downturn. One surprise in the data (at least to the author of the Brandweek article, and to me, as well):

“While men are notorious for thinking well of their know-how, the poll’s male respondents were less likely than their female counterparts to say they’ve become much more savvy as consumers (31% vs. 38%).”

But the study also found that respondents don’t think marketers have changed:

“Among those who rated themselves as savvier, just 18% agreed that advertisers have changed “a lot” in the way they market brands or products since the economy has changed. Another 34% said advertisers have [only] changed “a little”.”

There are some problems with this study.

First off, what does “savvy” mean? And what were the starting points? So what that 63% consider themselves more savyy: How many considered themselves un-savvy before the downturn?

Second, and even more importantly, asking consumers to judge themselves on an attribute is a useless task. Why didn’t the survey ask: “To what extent have you become more of a blubbering, drooling idiot since the downturn?” Nobody is going to tell you they’re the idiot. But we know they’re out there, right?

Personally, since the downturn, not only have I become a more savvy consumer, but I’ve become smarter, better looking, a better husband and dad, and a helluva lot more valuable to the ingrates I work for who continually refuse my requests to double my salary. You get the picture.

Third, regarding the changes in marketing,the survey respondents’ views don’t match the observable, verifiable data: Marketers and advertisers have changed They’re participating in social media efforts with blogs, Facebook pages, and word-of-mouth campaigns. Many marketers have shifted their emphasis from mass media channels to online, mobile, and other channels.

Marketing has clearly changed since the downturn. Well, clearly to those of us who study marketing. So why isn’t clear to the masses?

Because the masses don’t pay attention to any of this. They could care less what marketing is doing. Do you think the average consumer analyzes the marketing messages and methods s/he is exposed to like the industry analysts and social media experts do? Of course not.

Another reason we — or at least some of us, I should say — don’t see the changes in marketing is that we’re pretty much oblivious to any change around us.

Example: A few years ago, my wife had braces on her teeth for a while. On the day she got the braces, we were out in the front yard doing some gardening, when a neighbor came by and said “You got the braces off! You look great!”

At which my point my wife turned to me and snarled and growled, because — right — I hadn’t noticed. (To this day, my wife will tell me things like “tell your daughter how much you like her hair cut” because she knows I won’t notice).

If you think I’m unique in my obliviousness, you are sadly mistaken, and need to re-read the Doofus Husband blog post.

Marketing has changed over the past few years — a lot. Don’t expect consumers to notice that much, however.

4 thoughts on “Turn And Face The Strain

  1. I agree again, but I also would take it a step further and say that we as marketers are to blame as well. How many times are we disappointed in life because of unrealistic expectations? So why do we as marketers continue to think that people will notice or care? We work hard, research, brainstorm, etc. and produce something that we’re so proud of…like we’ve birthed a child and then sit there and wait for people to ooh and ah over it and pat us on the back. It just doesn’t happen from the general consumer that much so we need to quit expecting it. Maybe we’re accused of being strange and wearing black all the time because we’re always in mourning over no one noticing…we need to get over ourselves – we’re not curing cancer.

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  3. Michele: You are spot on. Reminds me of a meeting I sat in on w/ a client (FI) and their agency discussing the shade of the color to be used on the firm’s home page. Not the color, mind you, the shade of the color. I was sitting there thinking “NOBODY F*CKING CARES, PEOPLE!!”

    Apparently, there is a “marketing gene” which causes marketers to believe that they (uh, we?) are the center of the universe and that their actions should be noticed and fawned over.

    p.s. I can’t really bring myself to call you “cheesehead”.

  4. I’m not the center of the universe? See if I ever read your blog again! 😛

    And as far as your p.s. – my alias around here is “southern cheesehead” because there are very few Packers fans in the state of Alabama as you can imagine. My dad was originally from Milwaukee so I came out with cheese on my head. I had 2 older brothers, but they weren’t interested in football (I can’t imagine) and I was a daddy’s girl so I would watch football with him. I ended up loving the game, watching it incessantly and of course becoming a Packer fan. The picture of Favre on my twitter page I took myself at my first Lambeau trip. Anyway, I’m a total football junkie – both NFL and college.

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