JWT’s AnxietyIndex is designed as a place to discuss how brands and consumers are responding to the global recession. With daily content updates, AnxietyIndex.com includes contributions from around JWT’s network, offering a truly global perspective.
With many Americans saying the American Dream is slipping out of their grasp, there’s a role for businesses to play in helping consumers achieve their Dream, one of the findings in our recent report “American Dream in the Balance.” More than a third of the respondents in a survey we conducted said corporations should help people achieve the Dream. And since fewer Americans now see the U.S. as a land of opportunity, brands should showcase the opportunities they’re creating. Walmart provides the latest example of a marketer doing this with its announcement last week that it plans to source more goods domestically, hire more veterans and help part-time workers transition to full-timers.
The company pledged that both Walmart and Sam’s Club stores will purchase an additional $50 billion in U.S. products over the next decade, both by buying more American-made goods and by onshoring U.S. production in several categories. Walmart said a new team within the company will drive the effort and that the company will work with state governors in its bid to create more jobs. Walmart also promised to provide jobs for any honorably discharged veterans in their first year off active duty, projecting that it will hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years. See our “American Dream” report for more examples of how marketers are tapping into consumer sentiment around the American Dream.
Nearly five months after we published our “American Dream in the Balance” study, Vanity Fair’s David Kamp explores how the Dream has evolved. With the threat or reality of unemployment, foreclosed homes and dwindling investments closing in around us, Americans are recalibrating.
Consider how the Dream looked before the brunt of the recession hit: “Back in the day, the American Dream was as simple as coming to America to find a home, get a job and live out your life. Now that is not good enough,” a 20-year-old Hispanic male told us in the quantitative study JWT conducted several weeks before the U.S. presidential election. “Now you want to be famous, rich, glorious and renowned all over the world. In the past, ‘dead end job’ was a term that didn’t exist. Any job meant money to feed your family and pay your taxes. Now working at any old job is pretty much the same as being dead. The world does not know who you are, nor does it care who you are.”
Today, however, that job doesn’t seem so dead-end after all. For a while to come, most consumers and many businesses will be primarily focused on basic priorities—surviving and making it through the crisis without too much damage. Along with leaders at every level, brands can play a part in safeguarding and stewarding people’s bigger, longer-term aspirations—helping them prepare for a more secure future and inspiring them to work toward it. We make a case for this in our trendletter “Rethinking Aspirations,” which can be downloaded from our Trends and Research section, along with “American Dream in the Balance.”
Below is a video we produced just before the U.S. election as a complement to our research.