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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Consumers are operating on a need-to-know basis

This morning’s Research Brief features a Pew Research report about People and the Press. The study was designed to examine how much—or how little—people know about the balance of power in their own government and other high-profile topics, such as the recession, TARP, and more.

Click here to read the full article.

Implications: After first reading this report, it would be easy (and a bit unnerving) to assume that a lot of people are generally idiots. But thankfully, I don’t think that is the case, and I don’t think that’s what this data implies. In my humble opinion, the report might indicate that people are operating on a need-to-know basis.

They’re very busy trying to get or keep a job, raise families, make payments, catch-up on retirement, go to PTA meetings, take care of aging parents… et al. Political rhetoric has turned government into something that would often be more compatible with Entertainment Tonight than C-SPAN, and people don’t have time for it. Bailouts and recovery plans seem like out-of-reach topics that are decided behind closed doors and topics over which the consumer (voter) has little influence… so why pay attention? They have plenty of other things to worry about.

Certainly, ignorance about how our country works is a fundamental problem, and it needs to be addressed. But lack of education is only one cause; a greater cause might be lack of interest.

When it comes to your business, how complicated has life become for the consumer? Is you marketing message focused on things you want people to know? Or does it focus on what consumers need to know?

An important question to ask… when so many consumers are operating on a need-to-know basis.

Mike Anderson

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