Economy Impacting Category News Coverage : Ogilvy Survey

When asked to name the number one factor influencing Americans’ deepened focus on their homes, it is no surprise that the nation’s home and lifestyle media’s top response was the fluctuating economy. And, as Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide’s 2008 National Home and Lifestyle Media Survey reveals, category coverage is evolving to reflect economic concerns.

According to 55 members of the national media corps who participated in the study, among the topics gracing their pages and airwaves will be “practical ways to make a home more pleasing,” “value-oriented” news and “how to live comfortably for less.”

“Media representatives are responding to people’s desire to live simpler, more fulfilled lives, while protecting their biggest asset,” said Danielle Mackey, director of Ogilvy PR’s Washington Consumer Marketing Practice. “The media believes that our homes are less about consumption and more about functional, affordable luxuries that help us make the most of what we have and help us make our homes reflections of ourselves.”

Personalization, or self-expression, of one’s design and décor was deemed by the media to be the utmost importance to consumers and also was named as a subject likely to be covered by the press. Also named as valued by consumers are products that improve the comfort of one’s home for family and items that enhance the curb appeal of a home. Safety features, cleanliness and product design rounded out the priority home and lifestyle matters that media feel are essential to their readers and listeners.

Following the economy, the media cited the green movement as the second most influential issue impacting American homes today, as well as the most newsworthy home products category trend. Sustainability topics of all kinds are crossing their desks, and what is important, according to the press, is that the news they report reflects products that are “attractive,” “modern” and “truly green.” Smart appliance and electronics technologies also were frequently named by the media as a hot consumer and industry trend.

“Home technology advancements, cool and functional design, and low environmental impact are qualities attracting the eye of the media,” says Mackey, “and reporters realize that it is a challenging environment for manufacturers.”

Thirty-one of the 55 press surveyed believe the biggest challenges to makers of home products’ are cost-related, from increasing production costs to consumer belt-tightening and the decline in housing values. According to the participating press, they are seeing news featuring products that offer innovation, quality, choice and good design. According to the data, media feel manufacturers are responding to consumer expectations best in the categories of abundance of choice and design quality.

According to two respondents, it will be necessary to “meet the demands of savvy consumers who want good looks and quality,” and “make green choices an attractive option, both aesthetically and financially.” The most interesting brands, according to the press, are ones that marry innovative design with performance and are accessible and affordable.

Approximately one-third of the respondents named two other factors impacting home significance: shifting attitudes since 9/11 and changing national demographics. In addition to green, value and design, the subject matter the media expects to cover in upcoming months includes indoor, outdoor and locally produced furniture, remodeling and multi-generational homes.

Finally, the media expect the focus on the home to continue well beyond 2009 as people’s lifestyles evolve. Says one reporter, “Pride in home life is stronger than ever, as we view our homes as refuges from an increasingly complex world.”

The 2008 Home and Lifestyle Media Survey was conducted in July-August 2008 by Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. The Home & Lifestyle Group within Ogilvy PR’s Consumer Marketing Practice reached out to 55 top national members of the press representing magazine, television, newspaper, radio and Internet outlets.

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide is a leading global marketing communications firm, with offices in more than 60 cities around the world. In its 27th year, Ogilvy PR provides strategic public relations counsel to a variety of clients across its consumer marketing, corporate, healthcare, technology, public affairs, social marketing and entertainment practices. The agency also offers biotechnology and government affairs expertise through its subsidiaries Feinstein Kean Healthcare and Ogilvy Government Relations, respectively. Ogilvy PR is part of the WPP Group, one of the world’s largest communications services organizations .

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