Fear will continue to be the dominant trend of the coming years. As we continue to deal with the fallout from the financial collapse, repay our individual and national debts and deal with the environmental consequences of an economy built on mass consumption being able to connect and deal with consumer frustrations and fears will be increasingly important.

Understanding the risks and fears that a consumer is taking and helping them deal with these realities can create deeper, more profitable relationships. But understanding risk and fear is something modern marketers don’t seem to be very good at. Lucian Camp, Chairman of the advertising group Tangible and an independent consultant looked at the communications of financial products in the 1990s recession in the UK, and compared them with those in the current economic difficulties.

He found many of the brands in the 1990s recession used the harsh realities of unemployment and economic instability to connect with their potential consumer and sell product. Fast-forward to the recession of the last few years and financial advertising has continued to be dominated by the ‘people dancing down the beach happily,’ or happy-go-lucky sort of creative. Focusing overly on the positive means that the realities of life are largely denied in marketing. The risk is that brands become even more fantastic and less about solving day-to-day issues.

Most of us have only practised our trade in good times and therefore its unsurprising that we find it difficult to connect through risk and more downbeat messages. Going back to basics and understanding the role and real consumer needs that we are targeting and getting comfortable talking about difficult, potentially fear based situations, will be a skill that we would be wise to learn.

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