Survey: 97% marketers say pandemic behaviours here to stay

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As brands shift their marketing strategies from temporary adjustment to permanent transformation, WARC, the global authority on effective marketing, has released its Marketer’s Toolkit 2022: Global Trends Report, which brings together insights from a survey of 1,500 marketing executives, one-to-one interviews with more than 25 leading Chief Marketing Officers, and a review of WARC’s latest proprietary research, best practice guides and case studies.

Aditya Kishore, Insight Director, WARC, says: “Far from signalling a return to normal, the opening up of economies has only created a new set of challenges for marketers. Attitudes, behaviors and market structures have resulted in significant change during the pandemic, and a huge 97 per cent of respondents to our proprietary survey believe changes to consumer behavior will impact strategies in 2022. Providing a wealth of information, the WARC Marketer’s Toolkit 2022 is designed specifically to support decision making in the coming year and give confidence to adapt at speed, identify and maximise opportunities, and help optimise marketing effectiveness.”

Key findings from the WARC Marketer’s Toolkit 2022:

  • 97 per cent of WARC survey respondents say changes in consumer behaviour will impact their 2022 marketing strategies

With vaccination rates rising in many countries, many parts of the world are starting to see a return to normal. However, even in these markets, consumers are rethinking and evaluating lifestyles, resulting in different behaviours, preferences and buying patterns. Marketers can benefit from these changes if they carefully adjust their strategies for this inconsistent and incomplete return to “normal.”

Social and environmental practices are becoming more important. Consumers are spending more time at home and becoming more concerned about their local surroundings. Personal and family health and wellness are being prioritised. Customer journeys are more complicated as consumers switch between digital and in-store channels.

73 per cent of brand owners in WARC’s industry survey felt changes in consumer behaviours would have a significant impact on strategies for 2022. Another 24 per cent felt these changes would have at least some impact – totalling 97 per cent of all respondents.

Pete Markey, CMO, Boots, said: “The big lesson, I think, has been around strengthening our digital presence: investing behind that to be there when people need it the most, and also using the physical presence to provide the extra depth of interaction and a level of customer experience that I think only an in-store [environment] can really offer.”

  • 46 per cent of WARC survey respondents say the environment and financial growth are of equal importance 

Sustainability is increasingly becoming an important priority for organisations. With consumers holding brands up to scrutiny on their record, brands will have to ensure that they deliver not only on traditional growth metrics, but also on a clearly identified framework for sustainable practices.

The ‘double bottom line’ – valuing profit and the planet – is now a reality for 46 per cent of survey respondents who say they afford the environment and financial growth equal importance. Actions include changing manufacturing, packaging and distribution, making public commitments they will be accountable for, and encouraging green consumer behaviours in their messaging.

58 per cent of participants agreed sustainability and purpose initiatives ought to be distinct, but there is still work to be done on measurement with 25 per cent of respondents viewing sustainability as a “general goal” rather than using specific metrics.

Martha Velando, CMO, DeBeers, said: “Today, consumers expect brands to do what they say, have the right values, and be able to tangibly show what they’re doing to make a positive impact in communities and on the environment. It’s our duty to be true to our word, and to make sure that we find the right mechanisms to show progress we’re making towards those goals.”

Robbie Millar, VP – Global Marketing, Carlsberg, said: “Our sustainability report is published annually. It’s very transparent and externally audited. On things that Carlsberg brands might highlight, such as reduction of water use, will be factual. If we’re using greener inks, it’s factual. If there’s less plastic in snap-packs, it’s factual. We want to make sure that what our brands get involved with is true.”

  • 54 per cent of WARC survey respondents view market penetration/customer gain as the most important barometer of marketing effectiveness 

Advertising measurement is in a state of unprecedented flux as a result of increased privacy regulation, the end of third-party cookies by Google and Apple’s opt-in to ad tracking.

The third-party data slowdown means marketers are exploring new advertising metrics, particularly more probabilistic measures, which could blur boundaries between short- and long-term measures of advertising.

Over half (52 per cent) of those surveyed by WARC said they are looking to find “new measures of effectiveness”, while 42 per cent acknowledge the need to invest in new technologies to measure audiences.

As advertisers focus on converting target audiences, more than half (54 per cent) of respondents now view market penetration/customer gain as the most important barometer of marketing effectiveness, up from 44 per cent last year.

Charisse Hughes, SVP/Global Chief Marketing Officer of The Kellogg Company, said: “Probably the best way that we’ve been much more advanced is in our data and analytics, and because we have such rich data and analytics – we’re on this journey with our first-party data – I think we’re able to test learn, adapt, and adjust our messaging much faster than we ever thought we could.”

Emma Sheller, Global Head Brand & Marketing, Standard Chartered Bank, said: “Cross-media studies should be a fundamental aspect of through-the-funnel media planning and buying. Our hope is that the industry moves with these changes to focus less on last-click attribution, towards a more holistic view of media measurement.”

  • 75 per cent of WARC survey respondents plan to increase spending on social commerce 

Content creators on social media are increasingly becoming empowered, as their followings become important to enabling platforms.

As livestreaming and other combinations of social entertainment and digital commerce become more important, brands will have real opportunities in this space if they can find effective ways to work with these creators.

75 per cent of brands in the WARC survey plan to increase spending, leveraging the power of creators to sell via livestreams and shoppable media.

Kari Callahan, Director of Global Media, Portfolio and Insights, Amazon, said: “We’ve really been finding some interesting models of working with creators where they’re creating and producing and building and our creative teams are stepping away… being able to have fun with it, being able to sometimes make fun of ourselves a little bit, and letting the stories go where they will naturally go. We’ve seen some great success, the more we put it in the hands of the creator versus trying to take ownership or control of some of the pieces.”

Doug Frisbie, VP – Global Business Marketing, Snap, Inc., said: “The difference now is that creators have platforms and creative tools that allow them to reach a unique audience of customers in a way that resonates more than traditional marketing would. The industry is starting to recognise that we need to ensure that creators can build thriving businesses as part of the marketing ecosystem.”

  • 78 per cent of WARC survey respondents expect to spend more on e-commerce

Increased budgets are going into e-commerce, creating new opportunities to optimise brands for an e-commerce environment. This is creating a need for alignment (and in some cases integration) of marketing and e-commerce teams. This could result in a potential clash of cultures, but also presents an opportunity for marketers to play a broader role if they can identify the right strategic balance.

In the Marketer’s Toolkit survey, 78 per cent of respondents expect to spend more on e-commerce and 25 per cent are adopting an integrated approach by merging e-commerce and digital branding teams.

Suzy Deering, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Ford, said: “As our cars are more and more connected, the way that we think about e-commerce shifts pretty dramatically, because it’s not just about the purchase at that point; it’s about the lifelong relationship that we’re going to build with a customer that really creates more everyday interactions.”


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