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The Push for Consumer Confidence
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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As many of you are aware, there are many times in our industry when we face crossing or not crossing ethical boundaries. Yes, if we remember our philosophy teachings, what can be considered legal could also be considered unethical. The lives we live and work we do are not always black and white.

Today we raise — at least, in our opinion — one of those cases.

The economic environment we find ourselves in is riddled with hyperbolic speculation. The slightest bad news sends stocks into whirlwinds, and consumers into a saving frenzy. The slightest good news sends investors into an indiscriminate spending spree, and consumers on the hunt for gadgets and materials none of them need.

A major factor in how people make those decisions is the report of consumer confidence.

"Consumer confidence is at an all-time high."

"Hide your wallets. Consumer confidence reaches an all-time low."

And so on. What kind of information can one really glean from this statistic? If people aren't trying, businesses, investors and marketers should already be aware. What aid does this give to the public? 

So, AdLand, here's the dilemma — in order to position brands in a way to give consumers a reason to not be afraid to buy, why not create a campaign about the truth of consumer confidence, and celebrate and "confident consumer."?

Think about it — when milk got a bad reputation, dairy farmers and a relatively unknown agency name Weiden + Kennedy created the "Got Milk?" campaign. When the War on Drugs started, marketers got behind the "Just Say No" and "D.A.R.E." campaigns. In the U.K., beer is on the decline, so brewers banded together to advocate the benefits of beer.

Let's take it up a notch — we need to fight this speculation nonsense, and we need to boost the confidence of the people. If we are to survive in a consumption society, we need to make sure people are ready to consume.

Here's the rub, though — our professional economists claim that we are officially out of recession, but people are still hurting. Is the celebration of the "confident consumer" a concept that can live parallel with our reality? Is this a concept that our society needs to see?

Not easy questions.

But these are questions we need to be asking. We're tired of hearing the same innovation, engaging, “disruption,” connecting, going mobile, stuff. We get it — conversing with the consumer is necessary. But we're just circling around the issues that actually make stuff happen.

Marketing is the language of business. And if the people we are talking to (our audiences) is hurting, do we approach them? How do we boost their spirits? How do we show them that our brands can provide more solutions than problems?

That's engagement.

The proposal we put forth, though modest, could be a cause for interesting debate. We hope you agree.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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