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Jwt Anxiety Index Quarterly Spring 2009
 

Jwt Anxiety Index Quarterly Spring 2009

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Making Branded Tactics as Important as Brand Strategy

Making Branded Tactics as Important as Brand Strategy

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    Jwt Anxiety Index Quarterly Spring 2009 Jwt Anxiety Index Quarterly Spring 2009 Document Transcript

    • ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY During periods of heightened consumer anxiety, brands need real-time data that can help them navigate a rapidly changing landscape. They need answers to new questions and a point of view on the types of businesses and business practices that will emerge out of the crisis. JWT should know. At 145 years old, we have a proven track record of leading brands through pivotal times. We’ve done this by providing tools to help brands succeed. One such tool is our proprietary AnxietyIndex, launched during the run-up to the war in Iraq; it tracks the level and drivers of consumer anxiety and explores how these affect attitudes and behaviors. Earlier this year, we expanded upon our AnxietyIndex by debuting www.AnxietyIndex.com. With daily content updates and major research and trend reports added frequently, this interactive site is intended as a place to discover and discuss how brands and consumers are responding to and coping with the global recession. More than a hundred blog posts and mounds of research and trends data later, we are introducing our inaugural AnxietyIndex Quarterly. This publication seeks to contextualize the content we published in the first quarter of this year, presenting a major theme that has emerged and offering recommendations on how brands can address this challenge. TOPLINE FINDINGS In an increasingly anxious world, consumers are adjusting their attitudes and behaviors in order to cope—whether they’ve been directly affected by the recession or not. Brands are responding in kind, adopting a variety of responses to the rapidly changing marketplace. Not surprisingly, many brands are focusing on price and value messaging. The problem is that such tactics have historically been considered a generic, low-level marketing practice, and normal branding rules have not applied. Eschewing smart branding practices is a problem that becomes more acute in light of the fact that shrinking marketing budgets are tipping in favor of short-term tactics and away from long-term brand-building. Note that this is not another argument for maintaining or increasing brand spend during a recession. While this is a proper solution that has proven to work to the enduring advantage of brands, we understand the business realities that preclude many marketers from adhering to it. We understand that, quite frequently, it’s an either-or situation or a situation where the majority of a brand’s budget needs to be devoted to moving product now. Instead, this is an argument for applying branding principals to short-term selling activity— for approaching tactics in a branded way. The recession has brought the need for this smarter approach to the fore, and it will require an evolution in marketing. Without it, brands risk coming across as interchangeable, schizophrenic, watered-down, reactionary. Brands risk becoming unbranded—generic. In our first AnxietyIndex Quarterly, we lay out this argument and offer recommendations for how marketers can make branded tactics as important as brand strategy. ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 2
    • LEVELS AND DRIVERS OF CONSUMER ANXIETY The 16th installment of the JWT AnxietyIndex, fielded in February and March 2009, shows that anxiety is running high as people fear for their jobs, investments and financial security. Levels of anxiety vary significantly across the eight markets we surveyed, however, ranging from a low of 61 percent in Australia to a high of 90 percent in Japan. (See Figure 1.) Figure 1: Levels of anxiety Overall, given everything that is going on in the world, the country, and your family’s life, how nervous or anxious would you say you currently are? % Nervous/Anxious % Not Nervous/Anxious 10 16 21 27 30 33 34 39 90 84 79 73 70 67 66 61 Japan Russia U.S. U.K. Spain Canada Brazil Australia While Japan is the most anxious market, Russia records the most intense anxiety, with 38 percent of Russians saying they feel very nervous/anxious. (See Figure 2.) Figure 2: Intensity of anxiety Overall, given everything that is going on in the world, the country, and your family’s life, how nervous or anxious would you say you currently are? % Very Nervous/Anxious 38 25 20 18 15 12 12 9 Russia Japan U.S. Brazil U.K. Canada Spain Australia ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 3
    • Unsurprisingly, the economy is the primary driver of anxiety in most markets. (See Figure 3.) Brazil is a notable exception: Issues that hit closer to home are the biggest causes of anxiety. Figure 3: Drivers of anxiety Events in your life, in the country and in the world can make people nervous or anxious. For each of the following, please indicate how nervous or anxious you currently are, or not. Political Leadership Brazil 1400 U.K. State of U.S. Threat of 1200 Economy Canada Terrorism Australia 1000 Russia 800 Spain Japan 600 Potential 400 Military Cost of 200 Hostilities Health Care 0 Current Cost of Military Living Hostilities Note: The AnxietyIndex Score is derived by the ratio of those who are nervous to those who are not nervous, Crime Job Security multiplied by 100. While there were differences across markets in terms of specific drivers of anxiety, most inevitably trickle down to a person’s pocketbook—e.g., the government’s budget deficit, bank failures, unemployment rates and food prices. (See Figure 4.) Figure 4: Specific drivers of anxiety Events in your life, in the country and in the world can make people nervous or anxious. For each of the following, please indicate how nervous or anxious you currently are, or not. The War in Iraq Impact of 1000 The War Brazil Global Warming in Afghanistan U.K. U.S. 800 Canada Natural The Housing Disasters Market Australia 600 Russia Spain Japan 400 Safety of the Food Gasoline/Petrol Supply 200 Prices 0 Quality of Products we Food Prices Import from China Your Government’s Unemployment Budget Deficit Rates The State Note: The AnxietyIndex Score is of Our National Bank Failures* derived by the ratio of those who are Infrastructure The Stock nervous to those who are not nervous, Market multiplied by 100. *”Bank Failures” not asked in Australia ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 4
    • CONSUMER RESPONSE TO ANXIETY Our research shows that as consumers find themselves affected by events outside their control, they are responding by exercising greater control of the immediate world around them in various ways. Uncertainty about the future is driving even those who have not been directly affected to take precautions. The anxious are planning their purchasing behavior around where and when they can get the best deals and exercising greater restraint. Some are reducing their transportation, energy and entertainment costs, while others are taking more extreme measures, such as moving in with family members. Grocery shoppers are trading down, clipping coupons and spending much less. Parents are having uncomfortable conversations with their children—about not being able to afford big purchases, downsizing vacation plans and cutting back on clothing allowances, among other things. (See Figure 5.) And young adults are making value assessments to determine what they would give up or downgrade if their budgets become tighter. (See Figure 6.) As a qualitative complement to our AnxietyIndex surveys, our bloggers asked people from their respective countries what they thought about the recession and its impact on their lives. I am a little scared about the future because I think the crisis will force me to delay my professional and personal life. —MARINA, 24, Spain, student I would very much like to know what to do with my savings. It’s not that I have a lot, but I know my money is shrinking, and I feel hesitant. Should I keep it in the bank? Should I invest in something? I’m worried I could lose my savings, which were so difficult to earn. —LUCIA, 38, Argentina, cook I paid attention to the thermostat this winter like I never have before. My family says I froze them out. But in an attempt to save money, I did turn it down, and I can truthfully say that has never been a concern—comfort was always premium before. —STEPHANIE, 40, U.S., stay-at-home mom For me and my wife, we’ve tended to stop buying anything that seems unnecessary or indulgent. For our kids, we’ve been teaching them to share and play with a toy together instead of each having individual toys. —SANTI, 31, Thailand, graphic designer I have different supermarkets for my shopping—one for detergents, soaps and shampoos, and another one for food products such as oil, rice and sugar, since both product categories are cheaper in their specific supermarket. —GHADA, 39, Egypt, homemaker I’ve heard at work that they will fire people and cut salaries. These are the kinds of things that are happening now, whether you like it or not. I’ve felt so impotent—it’s really upsetting. —MANUEL, 30, Mexico, film editor See the appendix for more on the AnxietyIndex methodology, details on levels and drivers of anxiety, and a closer look at anxiety and consumer response to that anxiety in Japan, Russia and Brazil. In addition, find more information on how consumers are responding to the recession by visiting the Trends and Research section of www.AnxietyIndex.com. ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 5
    • Figure 5: How parents are coping with the recession Average across U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and Brazil Had to tell child(ren) we couldn’t afford a big purchase they wanted Had to downsize family vacation plans Cut back on child(ren)’s clothing allowance Cut back extracurricular activities for child(ren) that cost money Making child(ren) pay for things I once helped pay for Cut back allowances for child(ren) Made child(ren) get a job Talked to child(ren) about attending a less expensive college % among parents of teenagers 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Figure 6: What young adults would give up altogether if budgets become tight Average across U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and Brazil Paying to download music Magazine subscriptions Attending sports events Dining out Buying video games/equipment Going out to the movies Gym membership Movie rentals Buying new clothing Alcohol Consumption Cable/Satellite TV Your Mobile/Smart Phone Your Internet Connection % among young adults 18-29 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 See appendix for variations by country. ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 6
    • BRAND REACTIONS TO ANXIETY Brands have adopted a variety of tactics in response to changing consumer attitudes and behaviors. In the first quarter of 2009, we monitored more than 100 brand responses to the recession. We found that most approaches fit into six buckets: optimism, humor, nationalism, nostalgia, consumer empowerment and value/price. (Some of these approaches overlap.) Optimism: During crisis, people learn to live with losses (jobs, homes, savings) and uncertainty, making them more sensitive to what really matters. As in every extreme change and loss situation, people start pondering the meaning of their lives. Brands are taking part in this process by trying to inspire consumers with optimism. Coca-Cola Spain’s “Open Happiness” campaign tackles the meaning of life via the concept “What would you tell someone who has just arrived in the world in times like these?” While the times might seem dire, Coca-Cola reminds us that the future always offers hope. There are also two compelling case studies from Argentina that focus on optimism; both campaigns were executed after the country suffered from a period of high unemployment, high inflation and general social instability in the early aughts. Beer brand Quilmes debuted a stirring television spot for the 2002 FIFA World Cup that featured the country’s soccer players cheering on the nation, urging their fellow citizens to pull through and get past the crisis while Aerolineas Argentina’s 2003 campaign focused on the concept of “Argentine-ness” as a powerful social connector. Humor: Trying to make light of a dismal situation, brands are resorting to all sorts of recession humor, some successfully (JetBlue poking fun at those who seem most responsible for the financial crisis), others with a thud (Manhattan Mini Storage using recession wordplay to persuade those who must downsize to store their belongings; one ad highlights the “Storagista,” defined as a “city gal who downsizes to a studio and stores to save money”). Nationalism: Brands are making a point of emphasizing the impact that doing business with them has on the local economy. Take iconic Australian auto brand Holden: With the tagline “Times are a bit tough. But Australians and Holden are tougher,” the brand is trying to leverage national pride to drive affinity with consumers. And in one TV commercial, a Chevrolet dealer compares Toyota and GM, noting that 97.5 percent of GM vehicles sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S. compared with only a little over half (53.6 percent) for Toyota. He ends the spot asking customers to “Consider America’s jobs. Consider America’s future.” Nostalgia: Anxiety and nostalgia go hand in hand—when times are tough, it’s only natural to seek comfort in memories of what seems like a simpler era. So brands including General Mills’ Trix and Cocoa Puffs in the U.S. and Heinz in the U.K., are “retrograding.” Equal parts wit and nostalgia, one ad for New Zealand soft drink brand L&P walks Kiwis through a classic childhood summer before reminding them that “You were there, and so was L&P.” Consumer empowerment: Brands are providing consumers with choices (payment plans, different sizes, etc.), making them feel they have greater control. NatWest in the U.K., for example, is highlighting the bank’s MoneySense financial advisers. E*Trade’s talking babies campaign in the U.S. acknowledges the rough economy and tanking 401Ks and urges consumers to “take control.” Price and value: With consumers making all sorts of value assessments in response to anxiety, it’s no surprise that the vast majority of recession-related work we’ve observed revolves around value and price. Everyone from airlines, fast-food restaurants and retailers to automakers, packaged-goods purveyors and real estate properties is rolling out price promotions, savings or discounts, as well as value or “more for less” messaging, to motivate consumers to buy in this depressed economy. ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 7
    • Since we found that value- and price-conscious marketing is so critical—and so dominant—an issue in brand responses, we focus on this area of activity for the balance of this paper. Figure 7: Price and value messaging vs. other approaches used by brands as recorded by an AnxietyIndex.com tag cloud 32 % Other 68 % Price and Value THE GENERICIZING OF BRANDS As marketing budgets shrink and tip in favor of value messaging and cost incentives rather than brand-building, the absence of the latter in favor of the former is acutely dangerous. This type of price-driven activity has historically been considered a generic, low-level marketing practice, and normal branding rules have not applied. While that may have worked well enough during flush times—when larger branding efforts acted as a halo and compensated for generic activity—today all communications must incorporate brand-building. Otherwise, brands risk coming across as interchangeable, schizophrenic, watered-down and reactionary. Take, for instance, the interchangeable messages that are coming from various U.S. fast-food joints. There’s Subway’s $5 Footlong, Arby’s 5 for $5 and Little Caesars $5 Hot-N-Ready. The simple message: Get more for less. Little is said about the taste or quality of the food. And little is said of Citroën’s technological prowess in a U.K. campaign that simply lists the prices and economic advantages (fuel-consumption data) of the automaker’s C1, C3 and C4 models. This is a real departure from Citroën’s previous long-running campaign for the C4, which starred a funky futuristic transformer that illustrated the tagline “Alive with technology.” Even more problematic is when price-led efforts are disconnected from concurrent branded efforts—evident in an effort for the Morrisons supermarket chain in the U.K. In a clear attempt to stifle the ominous threat from discounters, Morrisons has ramped up its price-led advertising. A series of cheap-looking ads fronted by Nick Hancock—a fairly low-profile, low- cost TV face—highlight some worryingly low prices: all the ingredients for a family barbecue for just £4. Confusingly, a simultaneous campaign uses higher-profile celebrities (Helen Baxendale, Tara Fitzgerald, Lulu) waxing lyrical about their passion for fresh, quality British produce. ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 8
    • Schizophrenic behavior of this nature dilutes core brand equity. While it may help in the short term, knee-jerk reactions to the immediate environment can prove detrimental to the long-term value of the brand, especially if they don’t link up to what a brand represents or the bigger brand idea. Australia’s top-selling breakfast cereal, Sanitarium Weet-Bix, is a case in point. The latest campaign touts the cereal as “Cheap Fuel” and talks explicitly about its low cost-per-serve, with the closing line “Just 9 cents per Bix.” While the strategy pushes value rather than price (with a new endline of “Exceptional” and a commercial touting a raft of nutrition claims), being seen as “cheap” provides no protection from the threat of private-label brands that offer the same product at a lower price. In today’s landscape, it’s more important than ever to differentiate your brand—to give people a reason to believe and, subsequently, a reason to buy. But now that we’ve entered an era in which price- and value-related tactics comprise a large part of many marketing budgets, how can brands avoid messaging that feels or sounds generic? MAKE BRANDED TACTICS AS IMPORTANT AS BRAND STRATEGY This is not another argument for maintaining or increasing brand spend during a recession. While this is a proper solution that has proven to work to the enduring advantage of brands, we understand the business realities that preclude many marketers from adhering to it. We understand that, quite frequently, it’s an either-or situation or a situation where the majority of a brand’s budget needs to be devoted to moving product now. Instead, this is an argument for applying branding principals to short-term selling activity—for approaching tactics in a branded way. The recession has brought the need for this smarter approach to the fore, and it will require an evolution in marketing. Tactics can no longer be divorced from larger brand-building efforts. Branded tactics— especially those having to do with price and value—need to become as important as brand strategy. The challenge for brand owners is to develop branding skills in what for the most part has been an unbranded arena. They must find their “value voice” so that promotions have brand- building effects, leaving a brand in a better rather than worse place. And everything, including sales tactics, must be seen as a part of brand strategy. Without developing these skills, brands will become more generic at a time when their unique qualities are most essential. Admittedly, this is far easier for some than others, especially those that had price-driven brand strategies well before the recession. It comes naturally to brands like U.K. retailer John Lewis, which promises that it’s “Never knowingly undersold,” or Wal-Mart, with its theme “Save money. Live better.” But what if you’re not John Lewis or Wal-Mart? What then? ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 9
    • RECOMMENDATIONS Below we provide some ways in which brands can ensure they are handling tactics in a branded manner. Find your value voice. You can’t just simply tout price, or you’ll sound like everyone else. Understanding how your brand should speak about price and value is absolutely critical. Exploit your unique voice to talk about price. • Since 1988, when Charlton Heston was on hand to open one of the twice-yearly sales at Harrods in London, a parade of celebrities from Brooke Shields to Christina Aguilera to Eva Longoria has followed. These stars arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, get a tour of the store accompanied by owner Mohamed Al-Fayed and address the hoards of shoppers lined up outside. With pomp and circumstance, Harrods has turned what could be just another sale into an occasion befitting its upscale image. • Target’s “Brand new day”TV commercials, which showed cool-looking people actually enjoying various recession-era lifestyle compromises (e.g., “the new vacation glow: self-tanner, $9.39,” “the new nightclub: Wii dance game, $69.99”), were right in line with the brand’s established “cheap chic,” “more-for-less” sensibility while touting specific prices for the first time. • In Sainsbury’s award-winning “Try something new today” campaign, which has been running in the U.K. for several years, TV chef Jamie Oliver encourages shoppers to experiment with new ingredients by demonstrating simple recipes. Since 2008, Oliver has been showing shoppers how they can feed their family for just £5. The ads reflect the changing times while remaining true to the brand’s core value of encouraging experimentation. Find creative ways to talk about price. This is the moment for brands to provide consumers with choices (in how they pay, how much they pay, when they pay, etc.), making them feel they have some control. • Casas Bahia, Brazil’s largest retailer and advertiser, built its empire on a business model that provides credit to low-end consumers, who have been able to acquire fridges, stoves, furniture, etc. through monthly installments. One key factor in attracting these consumers has been to make clear that the company is open to negotiating the payment plan and doing all it can to ensure the monthly installment fits the household budget. In one campaign, Casas Bahia actually asked consumers, “How much are you willing to pay?” in an attempt to provide the comfort that comes from being able to choose the most suitable payment plan. • “Pay what you want” has been used by a number of marketers as a novel way to attract buzz and engender goodwill by making patrons feel empowered. In February, Singapore’s new Ibis hotel ran a promotion via the site paywhatyouwant.com.sg, where guests could name their price for a room during a brief window each day. A handful of restaurants around the world have also picked up on the idea. Little Bay in London, for example, ran a “pay what you think it’s worth” promotion during February, and at the Taverne Crescent restaurant in Montreal, “pay what you want” is in effect during lunch on weekdays. • While many retailers discontinued their layaway service in recent years, amid a decline in use thanks to credit-card-happy consumers, Kmart remained committed to it. Last holiday season, the retailer leveraged this in a series of ads that used its Mr. Blue Light ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 10
    • animated light bulb to tout the layaway service as an affordable way to buy gifts. Others have followed suit, reviving layaway as a more financially sensible alternative to buying on credit. Remove the risk from price. With anxiety levels high and the future uncertain, people are reluctant to spend—even if they haven’t been directly impacted by the recession. This is especially true of higher-ticket items or long-term financial commitments. While your product or service may be the same price as it was before the recession, you can sell some peace of mind by taking risk out of the equation. • The originator of the movement to provide certainty in uncertain times, Hyundai Motor America launched a program in January that assured customers that “if you lose your income in the next year, we’ll let you return your car.” In a press release announcing the program, acting president and CEO John Krafcik said, “Ten years ago, Hyundai’s industry-leading warranty provided peace of mind to consumers about Hyundai’s quality and reliability. Today we’re extending that peace of mind to cover consumers’ employment status and personal finances.” • Telefonica in Spain is promoting rebates for people who have lost their jobs—an offer that’s less about increasing penetration than about crafting an image as a caring company. • AIG Israel is selling mortgage insurance for people afraid they’ll lose their job after taking on a mortgage. If the fear is realized, AIG will pay the person’s mortgage for up to a year. It’s a way to sell security to consumers afraid of long-term financial commitments—and, for a brand that’s facing serious challenges, a way to attract consumer attention. Don’t mention price. If you want your product to be seen as valuable, avoid mentioning price. An increasing number of brands are latching onto the “more for less” message—and it’s fast becoming trite. Make your message different by stating it in a new, refreshing way—without talking price—that is aligned with your brand. Allow consumers to connect the dots. • With its current iteration of “Happy Jetting,” JetBlue subtly communicates “more for less” by telling “bigwigs, muckety-mucks and big cheeses” how “jetting on JetBlue is a lot like on your private jet, with a few basic differences.” A section on the airline’s Web site describes features such as lots of leg room, DirectTV, free snacks and “fares that won’t give the CFO a conniption.” The work is perfectly aligned with JetBlue’s distinctly un-stuffy, anti-stodgy airline brand. • OMO, a leading washing-powder brand in the premium segment in China, is positioned as cleaning more types of stains than competitors—99 types of stains, as its advertising claims. Heightened consumer sensitivity to price recently prompted the brand to further justify its cost. Without relinquishing any of its premium creds, current advertising tells housewives that OMO is a good value because it cleans twice the amount of clothing with the same amount of powder. While it may be difficult in a climate dominated with price and value messaging, it’s imperative to make branded tactics as important as brand strategy. It’s a matter of long-term thinking: Brands must be sensitive to consumers’ changed priorities but nevertheless maintain their uniqueness. Brands that successfully accomplish this will not only retain customers during these lean times but remain relevant once the economy picks up again. ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 11
    • APPENDIX METHODOLOGY The 16th installment of the JWT AnxietyIndex was fielded in February and March 2009, using SONARTM, JWT’s proprietary online research tool. The online survey polled 1,065 American adults, 1,004 Britons, 992 Canadians, 983 Australians, 500 Brazilians, 500 Japanese, 205 Russians and 203 Spaniards. Data was weighted by age, gender and household income based on government population statistics. ANXIETY LEVELS AND DRIVERS Anxiety is running high as people fear for their jobs, investments and financial security. Across the eight markets we surveyed, anxiety levels ranged from 61 percent in Australia—which hasn’t yet felt the full impact of the global recession—to as high as 90 percent in Japan. Just as Japan’s economic prospects were looking up following the “Lost Decade,” the current recession hit, and its export-dependent economy has become even more hobbled. In addition, Japan’s political leadership has demonstrated a lack of vision, its economic and political sphere of influence is rapidly shrinking in the face of India and China, and the lack of elder care is a hot topic in a country whose population is the fastest-aging in the world. While Japan is the most anxious market, Russia records the most intense anxiety, with 38 percent of Russians saying they feel very nervous/anxious. Memories of the ’98 financial crisis are still top-of-mind for Russians, and most believe this crisis will be long-lasting. Amid layoffs and salary cuts, Russians are seeing a reduction in their household income even as the cost of products and services continues to climb—prices are two to three times higher in Moscow than in other European capitals. Unsurprisingly, the economy is the primary driver of anxiety in most markets. Brazil is a notable exception: Issues that hit closer to home are the biggest drivers of anxiety in that market, especially crime and the cost of health care. While the crisis has affected Brazil—and the official index indicates a rise in unemployment—few feel they’ve been hit hard. This is likely because the Brazilian economy is still very informal, and because Brazilians tend to find opportunity in crisis. Concern about the cost of living is higher than average in Russia. Similarly, concern about the cost of health care is higher than average in the U.S. and Russia. When asked about specific factors that may contribute to anxiety, Russians expressed most concern about food prices, Americans about the budget deficit and unemployment, and Britons about bank failures. In Brazil, food prices, the unemployment rate and global warming are major concerns; in Canada, the biggest worries are the unemployment rate and food prices; in Australia, it’s food prices; and in Spain, it’s the unemployment rate. Since Japan has the highest level of anxiety and Russia the most intense, we take a closer look at these markets here. We also take a closer look at Brazil, since the drivers of anxiety there vary greatly from those in the other countries we surveyed. ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 12
    • A CLOSER LOOK AT JAPAN, RUSSIA AND BRAZIL Economic downturn is just the tip of the iceberg for anxious Japanese Japanese culture—more than most and, some would argue, even to a fault—places great emphasis on stability and harmony. So when those break down, Japanese people get antsy. Our most recent AnxietyIndex finds that 90 percent of Japanese consumers say they are anxious, and a quarter of those express intense anxiety. The recent global economic woes are perhaps the proverbial straw that’s breaking the camel’s back. It’s the latest in a string of events that have led to a dramatic loss of stability and revealed cracks in the cultural fiber of the country. Unlike other parts of the world, Japan has not enjoyed the growth and prosperity of the last 15 or 20 years, thanks to the “Lost Decade” of economic stagnation following the early-’90s bursting of Japan’s bubble economy. And just as the country’s economic prospects were looking up, the current global recession hit, and its export-dependent economy has become even more hobbled. In addition, Japan’s political leadership has demonstrated a lack of vision with policies that have done more harm than good. Programs meant to stimulate the stagnant economy of the last decade and a half have failed and only put the country in big debt relative to GDP; the health care system is in shambles due to poor planning; and the lifetime-employment system has broken down, with unprecedented unemployment rates. The list goes on and on. (continued on next page) Figure 1: Drivers of anxiety (Japan vs. other markets) Events in your life, in the country and in the world can make people nervous or anxious. For each of the following, please indicate how nervous or anxious you currently are, or not. The War in Iraq Impact of 1000 The War Japan Global Warming in Afghanistan Average of 8 Markets 800 Natural The Housing Disasters Market 600 400 Safety of the Food Gasoline/Petrol Supply 200 Prices 0 Quality of Products we Food Prices Import from China Your Government’s Unemployment Budget Deficit Rates The State of Our National Bank Failures Infrastructure The Stock Market ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 13
    • As if those weren’t enough sources of anxiety, Japan’s population is the fastest-aging in the world, its birthrate is the lowest among developed countries, and the tradition of multigenerational households has all but disappeared in less than 20 years. The lack of adequate elder care is becoming a hot topic; a Japanese celebrity recently committed suicide because the burden of caring for her elderly and infirm mother 24 hours a day without any support had become too much. What’s more, beyond domestic concerns, Japan’s economic and political sphere of influence is rapidly shrinking in the face of the Indian and Chinese juggernauts, and there is a real sense— in one of the most natural-disaster-prone countries in the world—that the impact of global warming will hit Japan hard, perhaps sooner than later. Many Japanese are therefore looking toward the future without much hope, seeing their society moving further and further away from the stability and harmony so deeply ingrained in the culture. This lack of hope is feeding fear and, ultimately, anxiety. For brands looking to connect with Japanese consumers, providing a vision of hope is the place to start. This does not mean sugar-coated aspiration; consumers in Japan, as much as anywhere else, are savvy and hungry for transparency and authenticity. Rather, it’s about connecting with core cultural values—the deep-seated Japanese belief in the collective power to overcome adversity, for example—and expressing belief in a positive future. Ironically, it may also involve looking to the past and deep into the culture itself; brands that can help renew a national sense of pride stand a better chance of striking the right chord with today’s Japanese consumer. —JORDAN PRICE, TOKYO ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 14
    • Highly anxious Russians see their country as hardest-hit Russians were the most intensely anxious consumers among the eight countries JWT surveyed earlier this year. They feel that Russia is suffering the most in this global recession, ahead of the U.S. Memories of the ’98 financial crisis are still top-of-mind, and most Russians believe this crisis will be long-lasting. Still, they see the mass media as exaggerating the crisis’ influence and stirring aggravation and anxiety. There’s a panicked mood among circles of friends and colleagues, and for good reason: With layoffs and salary cuts, Russians are seeing a reduction in their household income even as the cost of products and services continues to climb—prices are two to three times higher in Moscow than in other European capitals. (Only petroleum has become a little cheaper with the crisis.) As a result, the country is seeing major cutbacks in consumer spending and a crime wave. Russians are reducing their expenses and saving more. They are economizing not only in food, clothing and entertainment but also in their pharmaceutical purchases. Brands can connect with these consumers by speaking simply and clearly to the common people—who are tired of seeing the promotion of unaffordable luxury lifestyles—and emphasizing transparency. Focusing on value is important, as the key criterion for most consumers is the correlation between price and quality. —EKATERINA FILIMONOVA, MOSCOW Figure 2: Drivers of anxiety (Russia vs. other markets) Events in your life, in the country and in the world can make people nervous or anxious. For each of the following, please indicate how nervous or anxious you currently are, or not. The War in Iraq Impact of 1000 The War Russia Global Warming in Afghanistan Average of 8 Markets 800 Natural The Housing Disasters Market 600 400 Safety of the Food Gasoline/Petrol Supply 200 Prices 0 Quality of Products we Food Prices Import from China Your Government’s Unemployment Budget Deficit Rates The State of Our National Bank Failures Infrastructure The Stock Market ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 15
    • Brazilians brush off temporary woes, downturn included “We’ve already been through a series of economic crises, and no one died because of them”— this seems to be the dominant attitude among Brazilian adults. And in fact, Brazilians now have a stable currency and are living in times of effective social mobility. While the crisis has affected Brazil—and the official index indicates a rise in unemployment— few feel they’ve been hit hard. This is likely because the Brazilian economy is still very informal and also because Brazilians tend to find opportunity in crisis. People deal with high unemployment in enterprising ways: selling foodstuffs or beauty products, performing services like house painting and gardening, etc. Despite this tendency to brush off temporary woes and to find opportunity in crisis, even the most optimistic people sometimes feel defeated by the country’s deeply entrenched problems, primarily its crime, government corruption and violence. This defeatism in turn makes Brazilians more fearful. To counteract this anxiety, brands should reinforce, reflect and even drive consumer optimism. Brands can also get behind Brazilians by helping or encouraging them to take advantage of ~ whatever opportunities exist. —KEN FUJIOKA, SAO PAULO Figure 3: Drivers of anxiety (Brazil vs. other markets) Events in your life, in the country and in the world can make people nervous or anxious. For each of the following, please indicate how nervous or anxious you currently are, or not. The War in Iraq The War 1200 Impunity in Afghanistan 1100 Excess of Vehicles 1000 The Housing Market 900 800 Inflation 700 Gasoline Prices 600 500 Government Food Prices 400 Corruption 300 200 100 Unemployment Violence 0 Rates Depreciation Bank Failures of Currency Trade Balance The Stock Market Impact of The State of Our Global Warming National Infrastructure Natural Disasters Your Government’s Safety of the Quality of Budget Deficit Food Supply Products we Import from China February 2009 Note: Since we did not measure government corruption and impunity as specific drivers of anxiety in other markets, we are not showing Brazil’s anxieties relative to the other markets surveyed here. ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 16
    • Figure 4: How parents are coping with the recession U.S. Canada U.K. Australia Brazil Had to tell child(ren) we couldn’t afford a big purchase they wanted Had to downsize family vacation plans Cut back on child(ren)’s clothing allowance Cut back extracurricular activities for child(ren) that cost money Making child(ren) pay for things I once helped pay for Cut back allowances for child(ren) Made child(ren) get a job Talked to child(ren) about % among parents of teenagers attending a less expensive college 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Figure 5: What young adults would give up altogether if budgets become tight U.S. Canada U.K. Australia Brazil Paying to download music Magazine subscriptions Attending sports events Dining out Buying video games/equipment Going out to the movies Gym membership Movie rentals Buying new clothing Alcohol Consumption Cable/Satellite TV Your Mobile/Smart Phone Your Internet Connection % among young adults 18-29 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 ANXIETYINDEX.COM ANXIETYINDEX QUARTERLY 17
    • 466 Lexington Avenue New York, NY 10017 www.jwt.com www.AnxietyIndex.com For AnxietyIndex inquiries, please contact Ann Mack (ann.mack@jwt.com, 212-210-7378). For press inquiries, please contact Erin Johnson (erin.johnson@jwt.com, 212-210-7243).