Churches Get Religion On Marketing 2009: 10 2009

Churches Get Religion on Marketing

May 10, 2009 Register Now Advertising Age: Your Online Source for Marketing and Media News YORK, Pa.
( — Marketing may or may not have played a role in American’s increasingly fickle relationship with religion, but it’s certainly playing one today as organized religions scramble to get consumers’ attention. Call it modern-day malaise or attention-deficit religion jumping, but the “nones” are on the rise as more as more people are labeling themselves as having no religion. Today, 15% of Americans say they are “unaffiliated,” up from 8% in 1990. It’s an even more pronounced change among young people — 46% of people ages 18 to 34 consider themselves to have “no religion,” according to the American Religious Identification Survey by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture at Trinity College. Brand loyalty should not be confused with a lack of faith, however. That is, “nones” aren’t necessarily nonbelievers, just non-church goers. Sixty-two percent of 18- to 34-year-olds consider themselves spiritual, and another 43% have prayed in the last two months, according to a survey by Bohan Advertising/Marketing, the Barna Group and the United Methodist Church. Marketing is seen as both the source of the problem and a potential solution. “We’re so used to having our products created for us that fill our needs … that it makes all of the sense in the world we’d expect the same from our faith,” Ms. Epstein said.
Marketing alone isn’t to blame for religions’ faltering — an influx of new religion choices via immigration, the rise of the megachurch and widespread criticism of organized religion all play a role — but marketing is increasingly the tool of choice for religions seeking to reverse the trend.

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