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.
Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest causes of anxiety, especially when dealing with it alone. An online ad for Google demonstrates how the company’s tools, such as Google Chat or Google+, can help people deal with their uncertainties and worries together. In showing a young couple expecting a baby imminently—the most tense of times—Google illustrates its claim to “make the web work for you.”
The sweet two-minute film illustrates how the couple stay in touch throughout the day, using Google, and seek answers to their pressing questions. The wife seeks natural ways to cope with labor, the husband nervously calculates tuition fees, and each of them searches for baby names (the wife lands on Beatrice for a girl, the husband on Elvis for a boy). The wife seeks advice from friends on Google+, wondering how to tell her husband there will no longer be room for his record collection. Finally, the location-sharing feature comes in handy when the contractions begin, allowing the husband to find his wife and get to the hospital in time.
Google successfully conveys that it is more than a search engine and that its various products can make daily life easier, more efficient and even less anxious.
In today’s economy, the job search is usually a stressful endeavor. While unemployment rates in the U.S. are slowly dropping, applicants still need any advantage they can get. Apply App.ly, a new job search platform, aims to improve the process for employers and employees alike. The idea is to match candidates with vacancies based not only on qualifications and experience but also on personality type. Apply’s application combines a user’s LinkedIn profile with a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment (applicants who have never taken a Myers-Briggs test can do so at a discount through the Apply site). This system can also be incorporated into an employer’s database for internal job switches, enabling employees to search for vacancies within their company that may better suit their skills and temperament.
Apply is following a trend toward greater personalization, making experiences, products and services even more tailored to individual preferences, behaviors and attitudes. Increasingly, consumers expect businesses not to treat every customer the same but to understand exactly how each is unique. In this instance, personalization not only helps match applicants and employers but can remove some of the anxiety around starting a new job, since theoretically you should fit in perfectly.
The traditional Indian consumer is a touch it, smell it, feel it, wear it, think about it, discuss it and then finally buy it kind of person. Hence, online purchase calls for a huge behavioral change. In addition, these hesitations aren’t without merit, as the purchase experience can be a real nightmare. Online portals have tried to reassure consumers by offering everything from cash-on-delivery payments to liberal return policies (which end up more valuable in theory than practice as refunds are slow to arrive), but most are pretty unprofessional, damaging overall perception of the category.
An exception is Flipkart.com, which manages to do a decent job. The e-commerce portal is trying to speed up acceptance of online shopping with a series of commercials that aim to educate hesitant consumers about the ease of shopping on the site. The spots feature children acting like adults—the idea is that no one trusts you like children—and discussing how various things can be easily bought from Flipkart. The ads put a little twist on the classic format of consumer conversations.
In this spot, a grandfather and grandson are opening up a package. A curious father inquires about it, learning that it’s a new mobile for grandfather from Flipkart. When the father skeptically bursts out “Online shopping!” the son explains just how simple the process is. “But without seeing? … Just seeing one photo?” interjects the dad. His wife, who’s been silently toying around on her computer, notes, “Before marriage, all I saw was your photo only.” Everyone giggles at the father’s close-minded attitude. The ads end with the tagline, “Shopping ka naya address” (“New address for shopping”).
As the PR battle over privacy ramps up, so too is consumer anxiety over what exactly to be concerned about and whether to change longstanding Web habits.
Our attitudes toward online privacy tend to be rather cavalier. We’ll routinely broadcast our latest transactions and travel plans as well as our geo-tagged thoughts and actions via tweets and Foursquare check-ins. Ironically, however, we’ll immediately call foul each time Facebook, Google and the like unveil an update that makes broadcasting life a bit easier. As Fast Company writer Farhad Manjoo pointed out in 2010, “We want some semblance of control over our personal data, even if we likely can’t be bothered to manage it.”
With these Web giants coming under fire for violating consumer’s online privacy—which has yet to be fully hammered out in the legal sense—Google recently launched the U.S. portion of its “Good to Know” campaign. The effort, which kicked off in the U.K. last fall, focuses on tips for online safety. The ads comically draw parallels between real-world and online behavior. One print ad features an excited cartoon bandit strolling through a home’s unlocked front door; copy asks, “Ever go out for the day and leave your front door wide open? Exactly. And the same rule applies to the computers you use.” Other messaging breaks down the basics and (benefits) of cookies and IP addresses, an attempt to ease anxieties about sites such as Google collecting personal information.
Though “Good to Know” has drawn criticism from Internet privacy advocates (“This campaign should be nominated for some kind of award for fiction,” said Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy), the effort will likely help to assure consumers that Google does have their interests at heart and that it can be trusted with handling personal data and protecting privacy.
“People judge me by the type of technology I have”—a third of the U.S. and U.K. respondents to a survey we conducted late last year agreed with the statement. And in an age where technology signals status, Apple has the highest cool quotient among tech brands. In the tablet category, it has a stranglehold on the market, becoming almost synonymous with “tablet.” So if you’re competing against a dominant brand with high consumer satisfaction, where do you start?
In a Super Bowl spot for the XOOM Android powered tablet, Motorola makes the bet that some consumers are by now developing a concern about being just another of the masses and want to differentiate themselves. Interestingly, it’s Apple’s own strategy from the 1984 Macintosh launch during the Super Bowl, turned back on the brand.
Motorola offers consumers the reward of being an individual. (A somewhat ironic twist, since five years ago the masses were flocking to buy its RAZR phone.) It becomes a choice between hopping on the Apple train—joining a world of identical droids, all wearing the iconic white earbud headphones, who shuffle mindlessly through a monochrome urban universe—or breaking away. One young man retains his power to choose his own path and uses a XOOM to woo his love interest.
In the end, Motorola’s product will have to deliver. But in the battle to gain some attention and drag on the momentum of a juggernaut like the iPad, turning Apple’s massive success into a weakness appears to be the best chink in their armor to exploit.
As we discussed recently, too many choices can paralyze consumers, creating anxiety and deterring people from making any purchase at all. So Nokia’s new naming convention for its phones is a step in the right direction for a company with a multitude of products.
The phones are grouped into four series by function: N (most advanced), X (social networking), E (business) and C (basic functions). Within each series, phones are assigned numbers from 1 to 9 that signify the range of features available and, hence, cost. So buyers know from the start whether they’re looking at a highly sophisticated device (rated 9) or a stripped-down one (rated 1).
Nokia’s solution—paring down information to its essentials—allows consumers to more easily weigh price range, features and functionality and more quickly determine what they want. This takes some of the anxiety about making the right choice out of the equation, especially at a time when diligent consumers must do a great deal of work to wade through the fine print.