Anxiety in America: The Impact of "Worry" on Marketing

The sand shifting beneath us:  It’s not the clowns or the haunting amount of sexy goldfish costumes  that are spooking consumers this Halloween. The majority of Americans...











The sand shifting beneath us: It’s not the clowns or the haunting amount of sexy goldfish costumes  that are spooking consumers this Halloween. The majority of Americans fear include our declining environment, financial insecurity, war, and transparency within our government, according to a study conducted by Chapman University in California. Consumers are scared of the uncertainty of our future and actions that threaten our livelihood. And, the anxiety and divisiveness around our country’s current leadership just makes everything a lot more prickly, to say the least. This fear cuts deep enough where marketers need to take a look and evaluate what this means for business.


Mother! Nature: Perhaps this year's most in-vogue threats are phenomena relating to the environment, as 4 of the top 10 items Americans cite as being afraid of include air pollution; drinking water pollution; river, lake and ocean pollution; and climate change. Toxic water crises in the Midwest, devastating wildfires in California, and the busiest hurricane season the Atlantic coast has seen in decades have made us cognizant of the destructive power of nature. Consumers increasingly want to be aware of how their purchases are impacting the environment. 40% of them say they look for environmental information on a package before purchasing products. More and more, packaging is becoming more important real-estate for connecting with consumers. 


World War Z: As insults to foreign powers are made through Twitter in response to now-regular missile testing, many citizens are concerned for the security of our country. As the fate of our future hangs in the balance, the phenomenon of “last chance tourism” is heating up as travelers seek out areas that are in threat of being unavailable in the future. Media outlets are promoting these “see before they’re gone” destinations such as Cuba and Arctic regions. There’s no need to market to consumer by sounding the alarm bells, but messaging can demonstrate how the natural/political climate make these memories all the more precious (and that’s depressing to write, frankly).


Cyber Security: Big name companies have been hit hard by cyber security issues: Yahoo!, Equifax, Target. Only 12% of people trust companies to take care of them and their information. Building trust over time with consumers means being consistently accurate about what your system can and can’t do. Consumers want more communication regarding the cyber security of their data, especially credit cards. While consumer’s won’t necessarily gravitate towards our brand because of their security prowess, 76% will likely take their business elsewhere if we fail to protect their information. 


Interesting that the economy is booming through all this anxiety. Makes me wonder how much more it might be booming if people were less worried and more confident about the future.