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53% of consumers perceive ad targeting as intrusive: WARC

The 2023 Consumer Trends report from WARC’s Evolution of Marketing programme explores key issues influencing consumer purchase decisions across brands and categories

Warc has launched Evolution of Marketing, a new content programme focusing on the future of the marketing discipline drawing on the latest evidence.

The new programme will analyse emerging trends, technologies, media, social influences and other drivers of change relevant to marketers in a series of in-depth forward-looking reports.

To launch Evolution of Marketing, Warc has released the 2023 Consumer Trends Report, exploring key issues that will influence consumer purchase decisions across brands and categories globally with regional highlights for APAC, Europe and North America.

Key issues that are influencing consumer purchase decisions across brands and categories highlighted in the report are: new spending habits driven by inflation, sustainable living, Gen Z’s mental health crisis, the rise of social commerce and a shift between privacy and convenience.

Consumer spending is shrinking: Two in five (40%) of consumers are spending less now compared to 2022. Over a third (34%) have cut spend on out-of-home entertainment.

GWI data shows that globally two in five (40%) consumers are spending less money now compared to 2022 and price-conscious consumers are forced to make tradeoffs as their purchasing power shrinks.

Over a third (34%) have pared back on out-of-home entertainment in the last 12 months. Notably, with over 3 billion gamers worldwide, consumers are only half as likely to cut down on in-home entertainment (17%).

Other areas seeing reduced spend include travel (cited by 30% of consumers), luxury purchases (29%), and clothing (29%). However, consumers are still finding ways to enjoy life through treats.

Two in five (39%) dined out in the past six months - up 11pp from August 2022.

Sustainability matters, but price matters more: 74% of consumers perceive price as a major influence on purchase decisions compared to a brand’s commitment to sustainability (47%)

Consumers still care about brands’ commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, but the high cost of living is pushing them to balance these issues against price concerns.

Three-quarters of consumers worldwide (74%) perceive the price as a major influence on purchase decisions, compared to 47% who cited a brand’s commitment to sustainability as a purchase factor.

Gen Z is facing a mental health crisis. Personal finances (36%) is their greatest concern, followed by prices of products (34%) and climate change (34%).

Gen Z’s mental health struggles are on the rise but growing awareness around the issue has led this generation to take action and prioritise their wellbeing.

According to GWI data, their biggest concerns revolve around their personal finances (36%), prices of products or services (34%), and climate change (34%).  

While nearly 3 in 10 (29%) Gen Z say they are prone to anxiety – a higher proportion than any other generation, they are more likely to take steps to manage their mental well-being such as doing hobbies/activities they enjoy (55%) and spending less time on social media (37%).

Social commerce is on the rise: It is forecast to reach USD$2 trillion by 2025, representing a quarter of all online retail sales that year. The social commerce market shows no signs of slowing down, driven by increasing social media usage and effective influencer marketing.

Analysis by Kepios shows that in April 2023, the number of social media users worldwide was estimated to be 4.8 billion – nearly 60% of the global population. Users spend on average over 2 hours per day on these platforms.

Mirroring this increase in consumption, the social commerce market is expected to expand, reaching approximately USD$2tn by 2025 per Deloitte, (representing roughly a quarter of all online retail sales that year).

Nearly half of Gen Z and millennials follow influencers who regularly promote products or brands (44%) and are likely to purchase a product recommended by influencers (45%). For approximately half of these cohorts, influencer recommendations are more engaging than regular ads.

Shifting the balance between privacy and convenience: 53% of consumers perceive ad targeting as intrusive. 62% find personalised recommendations helpful.

The contradiction in consumer attitudes towards personalised marketing highlights the fine line that brands must tread between convenient and intrusive. Over half (53%) of internet users find ads specifically targeting them to be intrusive. A slightly larger proportion (62%) think personalised product recommendations are helpful. Notably, more than a third (34%) agree with both statements.

While consumers express concerns about data privacy, protecting their online experience takes clear precedence. More than half of ad-blocker users cited ‘too many ads’ (61%) and ‘ads getting in the way’ (54%) as reasons for using the software.


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