Consumer Attitudes Good News for Scripps

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In a company first, Scripps Networks' advertising-sales group gathered clients and agency executives at Manhattan's Bryant Park Hotel for a peek at consumer attitudes in these uncertain times as seen from the perspective of proprietary research collated by Yankelovich Partners.

The look at "the state of the consumer in 2002" in the hotel's screening room was drawn from the research firm's "Monitor" data, compiled from some 2,500 in-home interviews and subsequent follow-up questions.

Despite the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the economy's struggles and various corporate scandals, Yankelovich found that consumers felt pretty good about themselves, their families' personal safety and their financial well-being.

Although Yankelovich discovered that consumers' use of the information available on the Internet and other sources has given them a greater sense of empowerment compared with the economic downturn of the late 1980s and early 1990s, many have grown more distrustful of corporations and their potential for lies and fraud at their expense.

Nevertheless, Yankelovich found that animus for corporations doesn't necessarily equate to distrust for particular brands.

The presentation also discussed the continued trend toward "affluent mainstreaming" and a narrowing gap of expectations from consumers of different economic strata relative to purchasing high-end products and receiving high-quality service treatment.

With doubts still lingering about terrorists, the economy and problems in the Mideast, though, Yankelovich's survey found that more consumers are turning to "home and hearth."

Certainly that should play well to Scripps's array of cable holdings: Food Network, Home & Garden Television, Do It Yourself and Fine Living.

Yankelovich said shows concerning cooking, home improvement, gardening, redecorating and the like are deemed by viewers, including younger ones, not only as a source of information that could be acted upon in terms of consumer projects, but as entertainment, too.

Another favorable finding: The senescent baby-boomer population is more likely to reformat their abodes than downsize them when their progeny leave the roost. In other words: Empty-nesters are more likely to convert their kids' rooms than sell the house and move into smaller living quarters.

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