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.

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