What does living the American Dream mean in 2012?

Since the phrase was coined more than 80 years ago, “the American Dream” has proved an enduring concept. At the Democratic National Convention, for instance, the first lady declared that Barack Obama “knows the American Dream because he’s lived it.” But what does “living it” mean in 2012, especially for those who don’t aspire to the presidency?

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This month’s trend report tracks how perceptions of the American Dream have shifted in the last four years, comparing findings from a recent JWTIntelligence survey with those from a similar study conducted in the run-up to the last presidential campaign. It details how Americans define the Dream, the extent to which they believe in it, how and why attitudes toward the Dream are changing, and how these differ by generation. It concludes with takeaways for brands, along with examples of how marketers have tapped into the American Dream in the recent past.

The Dream has been both challenged and affirmed since our 2008 survey. Millions of jobs have been lost and home values have taken a plunge, yet 7 in 10 respondents still personally believe in the American Dream, not much fewer than in 2008. Still, respondents are now far more likely to say the Dream has become harder to achieve for the middle class and easier for the wealthy, according to our survey of 503 Americans aged 18-plus, conducted July 26–30 using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool.

To download the full report, including implications for marketers, click here.