Subscriber Expectations Around Personalization, Brand Values, and the Gulf Between Age Groups
Chad S. White, Head of Research at Oracle Marketing Consulting, shares his insights on the 2021 Alchemy Worx Consumer Survey.
Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection and the ongoing debates around online privacy have raised questions about whether consumers are aware that marketers are tracking their email, web, and purchase behaviors. This survey supports the view that a significant number of consumers are well aware of this and, moreover, expect brands to act on this data to serve them better.
For example, when asked about actions that would negatively impact their loyalty toward a brand18% said “my name or information was wrong on messages a brand sends me.” It’s certainly a fair expectation that when a consumer shares their name or other information directly with a brand that it be accurately reflected back to them in their email messages.
However, consumers also acknowledged that they expect brands to react to their product purchases and browsing behaviors. For example, 15% said “receiving recommendations for products I have already purchased or don't need any more”would negatively impact their loyalty toward a brand. That rose to 21% among those 18-34 years old, indicating that younger consumers are even more aware of tracking and have higher expectations.
Consumers have even higher expectations when it comes to brands paying attention to their email engagement and aligning that with the number of email messages they receive. For instance, 35% said “receiving too many emails” from a brand would negatively impact their loyalty. That rose to 42% among those 55 and older.
In all of those cases, the percentages represent only the email users with the most ardent views. It’s likely that there are equally large groups of consumers who are aware of tracking by brands but wouldn’t consider looking elsewhere because of a failure to act on the data from that tracking.
What’s clear is that potentially upwards of one-third of any brand’s subscribers take failures to personalize content or email frequency quite seriously. So, despite the fact that Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection will flood email platforms with fake opens, brands will need to rise to this challenge and develop new approaches to serve their subscribers well.
In addition to the pandemic, consumers’ views and values have been shaken by a host of political, social, and economic impacts over the past 2 years. That means that brands’ existing marketing personas may need adjusting—or that entirely new personas may be needed—to maintain the effectiveness of their segmentation and dynamic content efforts.
This survey highlights some of the stark differences between younger and older consumers right now. In terms of purchase behaviors, for example, 64% of people 55 and older say their “purchases are focused on the essentials,” compared to just 36%of those 18-34. So, the older someone is, the more cautious they’re being about spending money right now.
Some of that difference is driven by younger people feeling much more social pressure to buy things. For instance, those 18-34 years old are more than twice as likely as older groups to say they want to buy products because they’re “feeling pressure to keep up with current trends” or “feeling pressure to keep up with friends and family.” They’re also more than twice as likely to say they want to buy a product because “it was recommended to me on social media.”
Beyond purchase intent, younger consumers are also much more likely to be drawn to brands because of the social values exhibited by the company. For instance, those18-34 years old are more than twice as likely as older consumers to say that they plan to “buy from brands with diverse models and embrace representation.” They’re also significantly more likely to say that they’ll “avoid brands that aren’t ethical or sustainable.”
These survey results highlight some of the divergent behaviors and values across age groups. Marketers should examine the behavior of their own audience and run tests to determine the right segmentation and dynamic content strategies so that each of the demographic groups that they serve receive messaging that’s in line with their needs, desires, and values.
Download the Alchemy Worx white paper, How the Shift in Consumer Sentiment Could Impact Your Holiday Season to learn more.