What Brands Need to Understand About Today’s Overwhelmed Consumers
The rollercoaster of the past two years has resulted in important new dimensions of consumer sentiment that are essential to understand if you want to acquire and retain customers effectively. Basic demographic-driven targeting and messaging don’t account for a human’s unique experience of the world as it’s evolving. Today’s brands need to understand and address the core of what drives consumer decision making, and that means thinking about audience segments in uniquely human ways.
In Resonate’s new State of the Consumer 2022 report, we took a deep dive into a new audience segment whose unique outlook on the world is transforming how these individual's shop: the overwhelmed consumer. This audience comprises consumers who are managing both careers and children, who may be in and out of daycare and school. In other words, they're overwhelmed by the day-in-day-out challenge of balancing work, life and children. So what does that mean for marketers looking to connect with them in a meaningful way?
Overwhelmed Consumers at a Glance
To state the obvious, these consumers are weary. They’re still navigating long work-from-home hours along with parenting responsibilities. They’re super busy and always on. It's important to know they'll open their wallets for the brands that offer a helping hand.
At a high level, the overwhelmed consumer audience is 60 percent male, and 39 percent of them are between 35 and 44. About three-quarters of overwhelmed consumers are married, and 21 percent have post-graduate degrees.
Of course, knowing their demographics is useful, but it's not enough. For true brand-consumer connections, you need to go deeper. Don't rely exclusively on the who and the what. You need to get to know the why behind your customers. In this case, our analysis found that overwhelmed consumers tend to be driven by the desire for authority, achievement and influence — important insights for marketers who are crafting creative messaging designed to speak to their wants and needs.
The Buying Habits of Overwhelmed Consumers
Beyond demographics and personal values, what should marketers know about the shopping needs and habits of overwhelmed consumers? Well, from a macro level, we know that these consumers are more likely than the average American to be making major home renovations, buying or leasing a car, and refinancing a mortgage. The top categories on their shopping lists tend to be:
- home improvement items;
- major appliances;
- toys and games;
- craft supplies; and
- sports and fitness equipment.
As you might suspect, these consumers are looking for ways to unwind from their stressful day-to-day lives. For example, overwhelmed consumers are 158 percent more likely than the average consumer to indicate they’re planning on buying a bar cabinet. They’re also 45 percent more likely to buy alcohol online and 57 percent more likely to say their drinking at home increased during the pandemic.
Beyond their home bars, overwhelmed consumers are most likely to purchase products that are considered family-friendly, fun and exciting, or innovative. They care less about whether the purchase is cost effective or practical. For consumers who have been hit hard by the doldrums of 2020 and 2021, it’s not surprising that these shoppers want uplifting products to offer a break from the pandemic’s uncertainty.
The Media Habits of Overwhelmed Consumers
To put it mildly, the overwhelmed consumer is busy — really busy. But they're still finding time for media consumption. They typically spend 20 hours to 40 hours a week online, they’re more likely to follow brands on social media than the average consumer, and they binge-watch TV often. That gives brands the opportunity to get in front of these consumers with highly targeted social or CTV messages that help alleviate their day-to-day stress, offer an escape and build brand connections.
Retailers looking to reach overwhelmed consumers need to make shopping convenient, as these consumers are 44 percent more likely to buy online but return in-store. In addition, 22 percent of these consumers prefer to download a retailer’s app, and 14 percent prefer to follow a brand on social media. Thus, brands can build connections and generate loyalty with these individuals by being present in the palm of their hand.
From a media standpoint, here’s where you’re most likely to find overwhelmed consumers:
- Top streaming services: ESPN+, Disney+, AppleTV+
- Top networks: Disney Junior, Nick Jr., ESPNews
- Top social channels: LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram
When it comes to brand loyalty, overwhelmed consumers are less likely to be “brand curious” in 2022. This makes sense, right? Those who are just trying to get through the day aren’t worried about trying new brands — they want something reliable. Brands that can build on existing relationships with this audience have a tremendous opportunity to establish life-long connections.
Undoubtedly, marketers know that uncertainty is now the new normal. However, brands don’t have to be paralyzed by the turmoil. By leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to maintain a consistent source of up-to-date consumer sentiment and intent data, you can keep pace with your evolving customer. If your current customer analytics strategy doesn’t include a privacy-safe consumer intelligence source that supports understanding beyond the surface-level characteristics of your audiences, it’s time for a change.
Ericka Podesta McCoy is chief marketing officer of Resonate, a consumer intelligence platform that helps build strong relationships between people and brands and agencies.