by Hans Eisenbeis
From a certain point of view, yesterday’s Labor Day observances were depressing. The fact is, there are far too many people who couldn’t enjoy the holiday for the simple reason that they have no job to return to today. And though the holiday is meant to specifically pay tribute to America’s industrial working class, that class has long been in crisis and decline. Indeed, Labor Day was originally proposed in 1882 and made a federal holiday in 1886 amid sometimes violent clashes between labor unions and the industrial corporations that employed their workers. The day was meant to pay tribute to laborers — everyday working men and women who drove the cogs of capitalism. Parades, fireworks and pro-labor speeches were once the order of the day. But Americans today, notorious for working too hard, have come to view the holiday as simply a day off to enjoy, a chance to make one last trip with the kids before school, and a signal to stop wearing seersucker.
Our research suggests that consumers are feeling restless and discontent, and that suggests an appetite for change. Of course, a major brand can’t do much about the macro-economy. But it can look at right now as a good time to roll out fresh campaigns and even new products to help keep consumer blues at bay. There are two approaches that brands can use to mobilize spending in this environment: forging a message of escape or offering the comfort of long-term stability. Both can take the sting out of malaise and help consumers feel less edgy.