US: How has consumer consumption changed post the pandemic. Agency experts weigh in
May 27th, 2022, Janice Fernandes

US: How has consumer consumption changed post the pandemic. Agency experts weigh in

Following the release of YouGov’s Global Media Outlook Report 2022, Wendy Arnon, Director of Agencies at YouGov hosted a panel discussion on agency and media trends. Taking part were leaders from The Weather Group, Omnicom Media Group, Havas Media Group and Horizon Media who reflected on the changing media consumption habits described in YouGov’s Global Media Outlook Report 2022.

Our panel of experts featured Fred Bucher, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, The Weather Group, Kathy Grey, Director Strategic Partnerships, Analytics & Insights, Omnicom Group, Faon Mahunik, EVP, Head of Intelligence, North America, Havas and Laura McElhinney, EVP Chief Data Officer, Horizon. Let’s look at some key perspectives from around the industry.

Change in consumption behavior

Among other things, the pandemic disrupted the media industry forcing marketers to adapt to an ever-evolving situation. Laura McElhinney elaborates, “2020 was a whole new world, we didn’t know what to expect in consumer behavior. There was no sports on TV and that shifted a lot of viewing habits. Now that we’re coming out of the pandemic, we’re seeing another shift, but we’re also beginning to see consumer habits levelling out.”

Americans, for instance, made a significant shift to digital media and non-linear TV over the past year. They either increased or maintained their engagement with websites/apps (85%), streaming video (70%) and watching non-live TV (67%).

The report also analyzed the future activity of consumers who intend to engage with these forms of media, which is termed as ‘Stickiness’. Consumers say they are most likely to either do more or stick to the same level of visiting websites (92%) and streaming video (91%). Listening to the radio (91%) also sees a high level of ‘Stickiness’.

Growth in consumption

Looking at the Growth Drivers, streaming of both video and music registers the highest growth rate, followed by listening to podcasts. Growth Drivers is a metric to identify media behaviors that people plan to devote more time to in the next 12 months. Wendy Arnon observes that podcasts are looking like they are about to explode. She asks the panel about their future plans, “Audio measurement is still in its infancy but how is this visible growth in podcasts going to affect your planning and influencing clients in the immediate future?”

The Weather Group’s Fred Bucher says, “We’re in a video business but we’re starting to think about how to get that audio experience in our streaming apps and use that to drive stickiness and loyalty. As a media company we’re thinking about how to bring all that together and keep the audience engaged. We’re looking at how podcasting can be complimentary to the other things we’re doing.”

Laura McElhinney supports that by confirming they’re seeing a growth in investment in podcasts over at Horizon.

According to the report, new media continues to secure a higher growth rate compared to traditional media. Americans reveal that in the next 12 months they plan to increase engagement with streaming video (28%), streaming music and listening to podcasts (22% each) compared to the last 12 months. On the other hand, relative to other digital media, social media scores low on Growth Driver scale. Our data shows that the top-scoring channels for Growth Driver score are all digital.

Video streaming services captivated viewers during the pandemic and are projected to have the biggest consumption growth in the coming year. The switch over to digital will continue to affect the growth prospects of traditional media channels likes newspapers and magazines.

Future consumption habits

Talking about the future, Wendy asks the panel if they think these habits will stick or whether at some point consumers will revert to pre-pandemic behavior.

All the members of the panel agree that media consumption is never going to go back to the way things were. Fred Bucher says, “The world is different now. There will always be a clear demarcation between then (pre-pandemic) and where we are now. In terms of media consumption, choice continues to proliferate. Pricing varieties, more bundling, are all time-tested ideas which will take their own manifestations.”

Kathy Grey observes that companies have understood that it is all about the content and consumers must be hit from all sides. This has led conglomerates to come together and envelope all media consumption – podcasts, streaming and others.

Faon Mahunik also agrees that consumption habits are not going to revert. But she also believes that COVID amplified the changes that were happening: “it is not like COVID put us in a trajectory that was totally different from how it was going to go.”

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