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
"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
"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
With minimal expenditure, Jain says many families are again
embracing the joys of home life, hoping to connect with happier,