Social media and online usage may level off or decline over the next three years, according to an international study conducted by The American Marketing Association (AMA) New York—”The Future of Marketing Report, 2019: Techlash is Here.”

Despite the rise of social media usage in China, both Chinese and American consumers have profound concerns about hacking and loss of privacy, what AMA says has led to “techlash.” The study examines marketing trends in the US and China as well as media use evolution, consumer perceptions of forthcoming marketing innovations and data privacy.

Marketers have plans to embrace the future of tech as six in 10 American firms and three-fourths of Chinese marketers surveyed said they’ll increase their use of methods such as employee influencers, ad personalization, micro-influencers, the Internet of Things (IoT), smart speakers, omnichannel marketing, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). 

The US and China have divided opinions about these new elements. Americans expressed support for methods that can be voluntarily used (VR, omnichannel and artificial intelligence assistants) while 60 percent or more of Chinese favor all the innovations except micro-influencers. Both groups have anxiety over privacy, identity theft, hackers and bots and worry that new technology will detract the human touch from shopping. 

Still, both marketers and consumers surveyed expect online marketing and omnichannel commerce to dominate the landscape a decade from now. The other most frequent expectation among consumers in China and the US is that shopping and purchasing will remain a mix of digital and brick-and-mortar.

Despite consumer anxiety surrounding privacy and new ad technologies, the study notes that marketers aren’t taking these concerns seriously enough. 

To prevent “techlash from worsening, companies must amplify brand trust and also have a plan to remedy challenges posed by the escalating economic nationalism is China and the US. Responding to consumer concerns also means offering them full transparency regarding their data and emphasizing choice regarding technology while specifying which ones they can choose to use.

The AMA conducted the online survey with over 500 consumers and 500 marketers in the US in January 2019, and in China in March 2019.