Both marketers and consumers plan on increasing their spend in Q4 and into the new year, according to a new report from OpenX and The Harris Poll, “The New Normal: Marketing in 2020 & Beyond.” The survey was fielded from July 20-29 among 1,000 adults aged 18 and over—16 percent of which lost their job or saw reduced hours due to COVID-19, as well as 502 marketers—mostly business-to-consumer marketers and some business-to-business marketers.
The research shows that 40 percent of consumers have increased their time spent on desktop sites, mobile sites, social media apps and connected television (CTV). To capitalize on this shift, 54 percent of marketers said they changed their strategy to reach consumers who are streaming more.
More time spent in digital channels resulted in 44 percent of consumers increasing their online purchases during COVID-19, with 37 percent saying mobile shopping has increased. Of the marketers who offer direct-to-consumer, 76 percent have updated their strategy to facilitate more online shopping. Even among marketers who reported a slump in total sales for the year, 29 percent said their online sales are up.
Despite more online shopping, 54 percent of consumers said they’re spending less money in 2020. For 61 percent of marketers, this new behavior meant cutting their budgets by at least 10 percent, and in some cases, by more than 25 percent. But as of July, 46 percent of marketers plan to add money back into their Q4 budget and 70 percent expect their 2021 budgets to be larger than their post-pandemic budgets.
The decline in consumer spending has enabled 28 percent of consumers to save money during the pandemic, with most savings acquired from not going out to restaurants. As a result, more than 50 percent of shoppers expect to increase discretionary spending this holiday season or in 2021.
Indoor dining may have ground to a near halt, but consumers are still spending money on food delivery. In fact, 58 percent of respondents who have used a delivery service like Uber Eats or Postmates said they’ve used the services more during the pandemic.
Consumers will spend some of their savings during the holiday season and in the new year, as 40 percent expect to spend the same amount compared to recent years and 51 percent plan to make a big-ticket purchase of over $500 in 2020. Looking ahead, 36 percent of consumers said they already plan to spend more in 2021 than they did this year.
The report also touches on consumer sentiment toward COVID-adjacent ads and how marketers responded to the social justice and health crises. A majority of consumers (80 percent) said they wouldn’t view a brand negatively for being associated with COVID-19 yet 40 percent of marketers reported taking proactive measures to ensure their brand wouldn’t be next to pandemic-related content.
A little over half of consumers (57 percent) are more likely to buy/use a product if a brand takes a position on a social issue similar to the consumers’ views. That figure was 77 percent for Gen Z and millennial respondents.
Of marketers that took some action around the murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests, 52 percent said it had a positive impact.
If a second wave of COVID-19 comes, 80 percent of marketers feel they’re ready, though 71 percent said their strategy would differ from the first wave. In addition, 37 percent said they wouldn’t cut as much of their budget, or at all.
Lastly, most marketers said that some of the strategy changes they made during COVID-19 will continue and will focus more heavily on digital channels.