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Study Uncovers Huge Chasm Between Consumer Values And Marketing Priorities.

The disconnect between how consumers and marketers see things has produced some major marketing misses recently (see: Bud Light). Now a new study conducted by Morning Consult and Advertiser Perceptions documents the growing disparity between consumer values and behaviors and marketing priorities in the U.S.

Commissioned by iHeartMedia and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries, the study 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,” the two companies said in a news release.

The report suggests marketers sometimes chase trends consumers don’t care about, often favoring what’s “shiny and new” at the expense of reflecting the values and priorities of real consumers. That comes to light in a series of examples cited by the two media companies:

  • 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 “Succession,” while less than 5% of marketers have never heard of the TV show.

  • Almost one third of consumers have never heard of pickleball, while all marketers have heard of pickleball.

In other examples of the cultural chasm between consumers and the people marketing to them, podcasting and snacking tied for No. 1 for consumers’ hardest habits to give up – while the hardest thing for marketers to give up was online shopping. Giving up social media like Instagram is twice as hard for marketers as it is for consumers.

The study also looked at “cool” versus “cringe” among the two groups. 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, one third of both of marketers and consumers think radio is “cool.”

Motivated By Family? Or Fame?

Presented at iHeartMedia’s AudioCon Wednesday by Conal Byrne, CEO of its Digital Audio Group along with Gladwell, the findings suggest consumers are motivated by friends and family, while marketers are motivated by fortune, fame and fear. For example, consumers are motivated by family and by friends about twice 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. And 80% of marketers say my career is a major part of my identity while only 42% of consumers said the same.

What’s more, 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.

There are some things the two groups agree on, however. Both consumers and marketers say that they hear from too many influencers – and not enough real people – in marketing. And both segments agreed that if they had an extra hour, they’d use it for sleep.

“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. “This study aims to level-set the conversation to benefit both our audiences and advertisers.”

Gladwell says the 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.

The consumer responses were collected via a poll by Morning Consult from Aug. 8-10 among a sample of 2,206 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment.

The marketer responses were collected via a poll by Advertiser Perceptions from Aug. 14-21 among a sample of 200 marketer and agency contacts from the Advertiser Perceptions Ad Pros Community and trusted third-party partners as needed. The interviews were conducted online.

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