iHeartMedia, the No. 1 audio company in the United States which reaches nine out of 10 Americans every month, and author and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries, released the results of a major study conducted by Morning Consult and Advertiser Perceptions, that explores the growing disparity between consumer values and behaviors and marketing priorities in the U.S.
The report underscores the increasing urgency for marketers to reset and realign their marketing and media plans with American consumers to ensure the success of campaigns in an increasingly polarized post-COVID economy.
This research is a reminder of how different we marketers are from today’s consumers, especially post-pandemic. Based on these results, we need to challenge ourselves as we build marketing and media plans to be sure we use real consumer data and not just trust our instincts and personal experiences. These personal biases are too detached from the consumers most marketers are trying to engage, and which are often behind major marketing misfires,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia Inc. “This study aims to level-set the conversation to benefit both our audiences and advertisers.”
“This report illustrates a cultural chasm between what consumers hold dear and the compass by which marketers navigate. It’s high time that marketers acknowledge that chasing the new and shiny isn’t always the path to hearts and minds,” said Gladwell. “There’s nothing more critical to understanding what people want than looking beyond your personal perspective.”
Key findings from the report included:
Marketers sometimes chase trends Consumers don’t care about: Is bias toward shiny new things a problem? The research showed that marketers often chase the ‘shiny and new’ at the expense of reflecting the values and priorities of real consumers. For example:
While 40% of Consumers report that they’ve never heard of NFTs, that number drops to 0% for Marketers.
For Lifestyle items the gap widens, as 50% of all Consumers responded that they’ve never heard of an Aperol Spritz, and only 3% of Marketers reported unfamiliarity.
33% of Consumers have never heard of ‘charcuterie’, while ALL Marketers are familiar with it.
62% of Consumers have never heard of the TV show “Succession,” while less than 5% of Marketers have never heard of “Succession.”
Almost 1/3 of Consumers have never heard of pickleball, while ALL Marketers have heard of pickleball.
Snacking and Podcasting: The two things American Consumers won’t give up: Podcasting and snacking tied for No. 1 for Consumers’ hardest habits to give up – while the hardest thing for Marketers was to give up online shopping.
Twice as hard to give up — Favorite Podcasts vs. Social Media: Giving up social media like Instagram is twice as hard for Marketers as it is for Consumers; for Consumers, it’s twice as hard to give up their favorite podcasts.
“Cool” vs. “Cringe” looks different on Main Street vs. Madison Ave, with ‘traditional American’ activities reported as “Cool” for Consumers: The top 2 activities that scored the highest as “Cool” for Consumers were traveling around the U.S. and BBQs, while travel to Europe and going to the gym were ranked Top 2 for “Cool” for Marketers. And among the top choices for “Cringe” for Consumers were NFTs and being vegan or vegetarian, while the top choices for “Cringe” for Marketers were making a recipe using cottage cheese and watching NCIS, both of which consumers put in the “Cool” category. Additionally, 1/3 both of Marketers and Consumers think radio is “Cool.”
Electric Vehicles: Marketers are 4 times more likely than Consumers to drive an EV.
Consumers are motivated by friends and family, Marketers are motivated by fortune, fame, and fear: When it comes to motivation, Consumers’ top two motivators are family and friends. Consumers are motivated by family more than twice as much as Marketers are, and by friends almost as much as Marketers, whereas Marketers are motivated by fortune more than twice as much as Consumers, and by fame almost three times as much. Additionally, Marketers are three times as motivated by fear as Consumers.
80% of Marketers say my career is the major part of my identity while only 42% of Consumers said the same.
66% of Marketers are excited about the potential AI will unlock for society, while only 39% of Consumers are; however, 63% of Consumers and 68% of Marketers are scared of the threats AI poses to jobs in the future.
77% of Marketers are optimistic about their financials; only 54% of Consumers are.
Despite prioritizing similar values including family, health and safety, Marketers miss key consumer concerns: Consumers value religion, the military and freedom of speech to a much greater extent than Marketers do.
Both Consumers and Marketers want to hear from real people, not influencers: Both Consumers and Marketers say that they hear too from too many influencers – and not enough real people – in marketing.
And different spending priorities means missed marketing opportunities: When given a hypothetical $1,000 to spend, Marketers reported they would spend the money on travel, whereas Consumers would rather spend that money paying off existing bills and debt.
The Biggest Thing Consumers and Marketers Agree On: Both Consumers and Marketers agreed that if they had an extra hour, they’d use it for sleep.