The marketing landscape is continuously changing. Various factors and trends affect how marketers adapt their strategies to reach and attract consumers. RRD recently conducted a study to understand the recent macro trends affecting consumers, marketers’ perceptions about the trends, and their approach to reaching consumers. Check out the findings.
The marketing landscape has been changing continuously over the last few years. Several factors are behind these changes, such as the accelerated digitalization due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the slow erosion of third-party cookies due to increased demand for privacy, and the advent of the Metaverse. Changing customer behavior and expectations, factors such as the ones mentioned above, and new trends compel marketers to adopt various strategies to reach and attract customers.
So, what are some marketers’ perceptions of the macro trends affecting today’s consumers? And what approach are they taking to reach customers? R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (RRD) recently conducted a study to find the answers to these and other questions. The following are a few insights from the study.
Consumers Prefer Social Media and Digital Ads To Learn About Brands
The study found that the top channels preferred by consumers when learning about a new brand, product, or service, were social media, digital ads, word of mouth, and cable TV. While marketers understand this about consumers, they underestimate the consumers’ preference for cable TV and word of mouth.
Top preferred channels for learning about brands, products, and services
Source: The Macro Market Report | 2022
About 52% of consumers discovered a new brand, product, or service using social media, word of mouth, and digital ads this year. The findings were consistent with those from 2021.
Social Media and Online Ads Are Becoming More Important for Marketers
The study found that social media, digital ads, streaming services, and Metaverse were becoming more critical for most marketers. Direct mail, print ads, and cable TV, too, grew in importance for a few marketers. That said, a higher percentage of marketers said the importance of these channels remained the same.
Similar trends are expected over the next few years. Most marketers expect social media, digital ads, and streaming services to increase the most in importance.
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Marketers and Consumers Are Getting Excited About Metaverse
According to the study, 90% of marketers agreed that it is an exciting way to reach prospective customers. About 77% planned to incorporate Metaverse as a channel in the coming years. Business services/consulting (67%) and retail (62%) are the two industries that strongly agree that Metaverse offers new and exciting ways to reach potential customers.
About 15% of consumers said they are currently involved in the Metaverse. While this looks like a small number, 36% were either planning to get involved or were interested in the Metaverse despite not being on it for the moment. Further, 27% of consumers involved are in the age group of 18-25.
The study further found that consumers are open to seeing brand communications inside the Metaverse, with 43% saying they were either somewhat or very interested.
More Marketers Believe Consumers Are Interested in Direct Mail
About 73% of marketers from the study agreed that consumers are increasingly interested in direct mail. According to marketers, direct mail has several benefits, such as providing personalized messaging and campaigns that relate to and complement a digital marketing strategy.
Perceived benefits of using direct mail
Source: The Macro Market Report | 2022
As if agreeing with marketers, 41% of consumers were more excited about direct mail now than they were years ago. People between 18-41 were especially likely to be more excited compared to older generations. Consumers prefer direct mail over email when receiving product/service catalogs or localized messaging and offers.
Receiving direct mail also gives consumers the benefits of having a physical copy of the information, having a copy they can refer back to, and better memorization than email. Consumers also find that direct mail is more personal (+11%), more likely to catch attention (+17%), and more trustworthy (+17%) when compared to email.
Marketers Feel Many Factors Will Influence Their Approach To Marketing Next Year
Marketers feel several factors will affect their company’s approach to marketing over the next year. Some of these factors include inflation/economic problems (93%), shifting of buying power to younger generations (89%), sustainability/ESG-related concerns (84%), changing political climate (80%), and workforce changes (78%).
Recent data privacy concerns have influenced marketing strategies for 85% of marketers. This is especially true for the retail industry, with 93% of marketers agreeing to it. Of those whose marketing strategies are impacted, 76% said they reallocated their digital marketing budget to direct mail.
About 90% of marketers also felt there needed to be adjustments to the marketing strategy as purchasing power shifted into Gen Z consumers’ hands. Marketers realized the need for changes to their strategies to keep up with generational changes. Over 60% felt visual communications, tone of communications, and channel strategy needed to change as purchasing power shifted to Gen Z consumers.
Most Marketers Believe Addressing Political and Social Issues Is Necessary
Most marketers (91%) strongly agree that addressing political and social problems within marketing efforts is necessary to connect with consumers. This importance is increasing, given a shift of purchasing power to younger generations.
Most consumers agree with marketers. About 63% of consumers agree that brands should take a stance on political and social issues. About 59% said that they were more likely to buy from brands that take a stance.
Key Brand Attributes Haven’t Changed Much Since Last Year
Consumers find a product’s value, a company’s reputation on quality, and how it treats employees as important attributes when considering buying from a brand. And these attributes have remained similar to 2021. Sustainability, commitment to diversity, and philanthropy are also somewhat important to them.
About 82% of consumers believed inflation affected their buying behaviors, and 85% felt it would do so next year. About 55% of consumers also felt brands have the responsibility to accommodate for inflation and offer promotions/discounts (66%) or offer payment plans (14%).
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Many Marketers Think Economic Downturn Will Impact Budgets
Regarding marketing budgets and strategies, 77% of marketers said their budgets increased over the last year. However, 84% expressed concerns that they may be impacted due to a potential economic downturn. Companies had to make certain changes to their marketing strategies to adapt to budget changes, such as taking fewer risks, reducing headcount, and reprioritizing target audiences.
Marketers’ top priorities include growing their organization, with 83% indicating it as critical or very important. About 81% said it was critical or very important to work on digital transformation, and 80% said the same about improving efficiencies in the supply chain.
Marketers’ top priorities
Source: The Macro Market Report | 2022
Regarding challenges, improving customer experience (CX), improving data management, and making data-driven decisions are ranked in the top three issues marketers currently face.
When evaluating vendors, marketers use a wide variety of sources, such as online reviews, vendor websites, client testimonials, product demos, and ROI calculators.
The findings show that marketers align with consumers on various channels and trends. That said, they also underestimate the power of certain channels like cable TV and word of mouth. With customer preferences changing, purchasing power slowly shifting to younger generations, and economic uncertainties affecting purchasing behaviors, marketers should adjust their strategies and approaches in the coming year. By adjusting their strategies and approaches and investing in technology that enables them to make better data-driven decisions, marketers can improve customer experience and revenues over the coming year.
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