With the emotions of the recent terrible events still with us, all
are making a concerted effort to return to "business as usual" - both to
aid the economy and to foster a sense of stability.
As we consider how to best conduct business, the factor that perhaps
will most greatly impact us in the PR community - and that represents
the biggest unknown - is the mood of the consumer, especially that of
Further galvanizing the feelings of young adults is the ongoing need to
define a greater significance or meaning from life. Whether it was the
emergence of interest in religion, the spiritual, social, or political
causes, or the desire to recapture individual or self-identity in an
increasingly global world, signs existed prior to September 11 that
young adults were searching for a more substantive purpose. September
11, for better or worse, seems to have provided that focus.
This could also be seen earlier this year in the reemergence of an
interest in American culture among young adults, yet another
manifestation of the desire to find greater significance to life and to
redefine one's self-identity in an increasingly global culture.
For young adults, the recent surge of patriotism is beneficial and
understandable. It provides a much-needed sense of strength and unity,
and a reassuring sense of continuity for those who are frightened,
anxious, and unfortunately likely to bear the brunt of subsequent
Young adults will continue to look to the products and services that
provide the context of their lives because of the comfort that these
familiar items can bring. But many of the emotions that guided purchase
decisions before will no longer hold true. It is likely that the
recently exhibited interest in overt sexuality, ostentatious displays of
expensive brands, and dark humor may be somewhat tempered. Cynical as
this generation has been toward marketing, that's likely to
However, what are likely to be valued are positions that are more
"human" in appeal. This will be especially true for those brands that
can communicate and foster a sense of community, or that relate to the
strength of the human spirit.
There are certainly significant difficulties to be faced by businesses
in the weeks ahead, both in the form of obstacles to normal marketing
techniques and in the form of personal feelings on what is
But by doing what we do best (that is, properly anticipating and
understanding shifts in media direction and consumer emotions), we as an
industry can continue to help our clients, colleagues, friends, and the
economy weather this terribly tragic period in American history.