Consumers, Business Leaders Focused on Different Issues
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Consumers, Business Leaders Focused on Different Issues

While consumers tend to be most concerned about issues that directly affect them and their families—such as food, safety and health—most business leaders spend more time worrying about what they can do to apply new technology to their business models.

Paul Holmes

While consumers tend to be most concerned about issues that directly affect them and their families—such as food, safety and health—most business leaders spend more time worrying about what they can do to apply new technology to their business models, according to the first Burson-Marsteller Global Issues Index, which tracks the importance of more than 100 issues on a worldwide basis.

“Despite the strong interest in international politics and the global marketplace, this survey shows that what matters most are the basics: the cost of food, availability of healthcare and growing threats to privacy,” says Mark Penn, president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide. “The signal here may be that people worry more about things that affect their lives directly than about things that affect society as a whole.”

Although business leaders and the general public did share some concerns, the top concerns of the average member of the general public were: costs of healthcare (77 percent), food (75 percent) and energy (75 percent) and identity theft (76 percent). Business leaders, meanwhile, were most concerned about the cost of technology (55 percent), affordability of technology to allow them to stay ahead of competition (53 percent), ability of hackers to break into company computer systems (53 percent) and the cost of energy and impact on profit (53 percent).

“As we look at these issues, we think the opportunity exists for companies to step up and take on some of the basic issues—world hunger, accessible healthcare, protecting personal privacy and security—while also satisfying their core business objectives,” said Ame Wadler, chief strategic officer at Burson-Marsteller.

Among the top 75 issues ranked by the public as being of concern to them, terrorism ranked only at number 14 and was expressed in the context of “the ability of terrorists to use technology to gain control of our public infrastructure, such as the public water or electric system.” Amongst business leaders, the issue of terrorism does not appear until number 33.

Societal and cultural issues are also reflected in the global survey.  The general public in Asia is most worried about their aging population and healthcare costs.  Personal privacy was also important to the Asian public, for example, the impact of personal photographs or videos appearing on the internet without their knowledge. Only the US public is concerned about its aging population, but in the true context of how Americans would support their aging citizens.  And, despite news coverage of terrorism, only Europe included an issue of terrorism in their top 10 concerns.

Top 10 Global Consumer Issues

• Ability to pay for healthcare for myself or family
• Identity theft
• Cost of foods
• Alternative fuel sources for homes and cars
• Ability of hackers to break into a personal computer
• Identifying new automotive technologies to reduce dependence on foreign oil and preserve environment
• Ability of the government or employer to provide adequate health benefits
• Ability to access advanced medical care and technology
• Ability of countries to provide clean water
• Practicing a healthy lifestyle

Top 10 Global Business Leader Issues

• The cost of technology
• Affordability of staying ahead of competitors using the latest technology
• Ability of hackers to break into company computer systems
• Cost of energy and impact on profit
• Ability to use technology to reach customers in a fruitful manner
• Improved solutions to backing up and storing company data
• Leveraging technology effectively to enable a more satisfying/productive work environment for employees
• Leveraging technology to enhance reputation and innovation
• Ensuring appropriate employee behavior
• Increasing healthcare costs requiring the government or employees to pass on a greater share of the costs to employees

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