Hyundai Assurance Program

I can’t think of a major American corporation that doesn’t have one or more employees whose responsibility it is to gather consumer insights. So why are so few brands truly insightful about consumers in this turbulent economy?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that consumers are worried about the economy. Most studies like the Rasmussen Consumer Index show consumer confidence at a record low. But can you name any brands that are standing up to do something about it? Not many.

An example is Hyundai, which is responding to consumer anxiety by offering to let purchasers of new vehicles out of their contract if they lose their jobs. A great idea that seemed destined to be followed by other automakers, but the U.S. automakers have all been too busy lobbying for their own aid to think about lending a hand to their customers.

American Business seems to have adopted a victim mentality preferring to whine about circumstances beyond its control rather than demonstrate conviction and leadership despite adverse conditions.

Is there any reason Ford can’t announce a move to bring a percentage of its manufacturing back to the U.S., creating more jobs and stimulating the economy? What about Nike, or Target, or Dell, or P&G? Instead of eliminating hiring, what if they announced plans to reduce outsourcing so they could increase domestic hiring. Imagine how consumers would feel about a brand that demonstrated that kind of leadership!

Concern for internal issues shouldn’t keep corporations from turning some of their attention to brainstorming ways to help their customers and the economy. This is a time for decisive private action and those who participate in the solution will find themselves on top when prosperity returns.

Addendum: David Hartman, designer of the VCU Brandcenter’s logo and other works of graceful creativity, pointed out that Intel is bucking the victim trend by increasing its investment in the U.S. You can read about it here.