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Andrew Curry writes:

We’ve just launched our latest Consumer Outlook survey, of the UK and Ireland – the seventh since the financial crisis struck in 2008. There are a couple of striking findings in the latest crop of data.

The first is that the experience of debt has a hugely significant effect on attitudes to consumption. Looking at our two debt-affected segments, 71% of All Hands on Deck and 63% of Choppy Waters (see here for an explanation of the segments) agree that “Since the recession I have learned how many things I can do without and still be happy” – whereas only 35% of the largely unaffected Plain Sailing segment agrees. Other questions produce similarly polarised responses.

The second is that social connections have a profound effect on outlook – we’ve known this for a while from the happiness research, but the data aren’t usually this clear. In short, people who said they’d made new friends since the recession, that they were now closer to friends and family, and talk to their neighbours more than they did, are twice as likely as the UK average to be feeling “more optimistic about my life and the future”. People matter.

These are dangerous waters for brands. It’s easy to get the mood wrong. People don’t want them to try to sell them things they don’t think they need any more, and it’s difficult for brands to insert themselves into social connections without seeming like they’re intruding. The brands that have done well since the recession (think Sainsbury’s but not Tesco) have been careful to get their tone right.

You can find out more here about UK MONITOR, which includes both the UK research conducted for our Global MONITOR survey and the Consumer Outlook data. This syndicated insights service, which normally costs £12,500 + VAT, is on offer if ordered before the end of April. Contact Karen Kidson for more details.

The image at the top of the post is from Sainsbury’s summer campaign in 2012, celebrating friendship, and came via Campaign Live. It is used with thanks.

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