As economic woes continue, companies have to decide how to deal with the issue of the recession in their advertising. Some ignore it and find different ways to encourage people to buy in troubled economic times, such as focusing on value or offering discount deals. Other brands put the economic troubles front and center and mention the recession.
According to a new poll by Harris Interactive, American consumers, however, have mixed reactions to the strategies.
The findings include:
- Sightly more than one-quarter of Americans (27 percent) say advertisements that mention the economic troubles and the recession make the brand seem more manipulative while just under one-quarter (23 percent) say the advertisements make the brand seem more realistic.
- Slightly more than one in 10 (12 percent) say these types of advertisements are depressing and make them less likely to purchase the brand.
- Two in five Americans (39 percent) have no opinion about advertisements that 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 Sept. 25 and 29, 2009.
Varying attitudes by gender, age, education, income
Different groups have different opinions on advertisements that mention the recession and economic troubles. The findings include:
- Men are more likely than women to say these ads make the brand seem more manipulative (29 percent vs. 25 percent).
- Women are more likely to believe these ads make the brand more realistic (27 percent versus 18 percent).
- 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 percent vs. 18 percent).
- 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 percent versus 24 percent) and make the brand seem more realistic (26 percent vs. 17 percent).
- 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 percent vs. 8 percent).
- Those with a household income between $50,000 and $74,999 a year are more likely to mark a brand as more manipulative (32 percent).
As a result, Regina A. Corso, director, The Harris Poll, recommends that ads actually mentioning the recession should interweave proven tactics like value proposition so brands do not seem to be manipulating the consumer or, even worse, depressing them and leading them to not purchase the brand.
This Adweek Media/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States Sept. 25-29 among 2,186 adults aged 18 and over. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.