Consumer behavior: obesity, trust in marketing, marketers use of leisure activities

Consumer behavior is influenced by both internal and external factors. Internal factors, also called the personal factors, are things like motivation, learning, and perception. External, or social, factors include things like social norms, family roles, and cultural values. Trends in the external environment can have major impact on consumer choices and preferences. It is important for marketing managers to be aware of such trends. How can managers learn about such trends? Let us explore the Web site of a company that conducts national surveys and publishes reports on such trends.

Harris Interactive frequently publishes several survey findings that can be of interest to marketers. Let us examine three such surveys. First, take a look at a survey done on March 6, about the Obesity Epidemic in America. This study finds that among people over 25, 80 percent are overweight. This proportion has been on a steady increase since 1983 (when it was 58 percent). The proportion of obese people was 71 percent just a few years ago, in 1995. Interestingly, 60 percent of people surveyed said they wanted to lose weight.

Another survey done by Harris Poll focuses on whom Americans trust. This survey presents data on which professions are considered most trustworthy to Americans. The survey indicates that Americans trust priests and other clergymen the most (90%), followed by teachers (88%), doctors (84%), and police officers (78%). Among the least trusted professions were trade union leaders (37%), members of Congress (42%), business leaders (43%), and journalists (49%).

A third survey conducted by Harris Interactive focuses on Americans’ leisure time activities. This survey asks people to name their favorite leisure-time activities and how much time they allow for their leisure. The most popular leisure-time activity is reading (28%), followed by watching TV (20%), spending time with family and kids (12%), fishing (12%), and gardening (10%). The popularity of these activities has stayed fairly consistent over the years. The survey also found that Americans spend 50 hours per week on their work. In the early 1970s, this number used to be just 41 hours a week. Some other relatively popular pastime activities included swimming (8%), computer activities (7%), and going to the movies (7%).

After reviewing the three surveys mentioned above, answer the following questions.

Given the trend in obesity among American consumers, which industries stand to benefit the most? Why?
How would you use the information on whom Americans trust for marketing purposes?
How can marketers use information on the leisure-time activities of Americans?

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