Archive for July, 2010

A Telling Economic Indicator

Part of the American Dream is Fading

While there may be different visions of the American Dream, almost everyone has believed that a key piece of it is the traditional aspiration that each generation will have a better life than their parents.


SCAN values tracking over the past decade shows that this pillar of American optimism has been shaken to its foundation right along with the economy: From 2000 to 2010, adults who strongly agree that “young people will not be able to live better than their parents” has jumped 12 points, from 21% to 33%. Source: DYG SCAN® 2010

In a recent NY Times story, For a New Generation, the Elusive American Dream, three generations of the Nicholson family put a human face on the numbers. As their well-educated son lives at home and continues to look for work, his parents (and grandfather) worry that he won’t get a foothold on the kind of career ladder that will take him to the successful life they’ve enjoyed. “No one on either side of the family has ever gone through this,” Mrs. Nicholson said, “I know he is educated and has a great work ethic and wants to start contributing, and I don’t know what to do.” (NYTimes 7.6.2010)

Uneasiness about the future plays out in significant ways with adults of every generation. We’re all more risk-averse: 66% of Americans say they’re “looking for ways to reduce risk – to make everything a bit safer for me and my loved ones.” (+8 points since 2000) Source: DYG SCAN® 2010 As the American Dream gets modified in fundamental ways, we can continue to expect a fundamentally changed consumer.

Implications For Business:

Americans of all ages and incomes are trying harder to get traction in every aspect of their lives. In the marketplace, that translates into cautious, conscientious consumers who watch their money, check their facts, and think carefully before they make a commitment to your brand. Discipline and rationality trump emotional wants on our way to a re-cast image of the good life now.

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