Social-concerns report shows economic shift

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Social-concerns report shows economic shift

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For a 32-year-old surnamed Kim, social issues that grab her attention the most are usually related to the economy rather than politics.

“It’s not really politics that I pay attention to, rather economy-related news,” says Kim, an office worker. “For instance, if some harmful substance was found in baby formula, I’d take note of that .?.?. If products were overpriced, I’d also keep that in mind.”

Kim is just one of the many Koreans who find economy-related news more interesting than domestic politics or other issues.

According to the Annual Consumer Report released yesterday by Cheil Worldwide, the advertising arm of Samsung Group, of the 10 social issues of most interest to consumers last year, the top three were economy related - unemployment, high consumer prices and the recession - while domestic politics ranked sixth.

This is in contrast to the interests of consumers more than two decades ago. The report noted that in 1991, the No. 1 social issue was domestic politics, followed by housing and real estate news and crime.

The report is based on a survey of 3,800 consumers nationwide aged 13 to 59.

“When looking into the trend of what issues consumers take notice of the most, in 1991 it was domestic politics, and this has shifted to the economy over time,” said an official from the company.

The official noted that of the top 10 issues in 1991, only three of them were related to the economy, while in 2001 there were four, and in 2013, six. The ranking of domestic politics, however, fell from first in 1991 to sixth last year.

“The trend shows that consumers nowadays are more interested in, and therefore put priority on, economy-related news as it affects more directly how they live than conceptual news and ideas like news about politics and unification,” the official said. “Such a trend also is being reflected in advertisements.”

Twenty-three years ago, for example, many key words of advertisements were more group-focused, like unification, the nation and people, whereas last year they were more focused on individuals, highlighting consumer services.

Cho Kyung-shik, director at Cheil Data and Analytics Center, said that in a digital society, “Consumers want to feel and know about their existence in the society.”

Meanwhile, the report showed that when it comes to personal issues that most interest consumers, “health” has ranked No. 1 for the past 23 years. There were, however, changes in the trend.

In 1991, the No. 2 personal issue for consumers was friendship, whereas last year it wasn’t even in the top 10. Instead, consumers are more attached to their family, which ranked as the second-highest issue of interest last year. Also, in 1991, consumers were not at all interested about life in old age, whereas last year the issue was the third-most important for the consumers surveyed.


BY LEE EUN-JOO [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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