Release Date: August 22, 2002
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The appetites and spending habits of American consumers have changed substantially during the one-year period after Sept. 11, according to an expert on retail strategy and consumer perception at the University at Buffalo.
"Once deeply individualistic and somewhat hedonistic, the American family has become more introspective," says Arun Jain, chair of the UB marketing department and the Samuel P. Capen Professor of Marketing Research in the UB School of Management. "American consumers are seeking comfort -- not from possessing goods, but from the company of loved, familiar people, objects and icons.
"The psyche of American consumers is wounded and their feelings of invulnerability have vanished," he adds.
Because of these feelings, post-9/11 consumers are less likely to be attracted to or swayed by new fads or glitzy marketing campaigns. They want to feel connected to people, things and ideas they trust.
"American consumers are, possibly for the first time, unsure of what tomorrow may bring," Jain says. "They are more inclined to follow their heart rather than materialistic desires."
Since 9/11, Jain says many consumers are making tradeoffs in their spending decisions --choosing, for example, to travel to see extended family rather than booking an exotic vacation, or choosing to eat at home rather than at a restaurant.
"When consumers are unsure of what the future holds, they are less eager to indulge or celebrate," Jain says. "They are more eager to exhibit their love and affection through gift-giving or volunteering. They place more value on products and services that can help them stay connected with their loved ones or that can be used in group settings.
"They are less likely to engage in purely ostentatious consumption."
With minimal expenditure, Jain says many families are again embracing the joys of home life, hoping to connect with happier, less-troubling times.