Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The Great Reprioritisation: Are advertisers ready?

By Mark Richardson, Regional Vice President EMEA and LATAM at Microsoft Advertising

There’s no denying that over the past two years, changes to consumer behaviour have occurred faster and with more conviction than ever before. Digital adoption has skyrocketed as consumers and brands alike responded to the demands of lockdown and social distancing – groceries were ordered directly to our doors, patients consulted with doctors virtually, while birthday parties and work events moved online, at one point, almost overnight.

Had these changes been as temporary as first anticipated, they might not have stuck. Fast forward to today and online shopping habits among consumers have remained strong – new experiences have caused them to change their beliefs about a wide range of everyday activities, from grocery shopping to exercising to socialising. It goes without saying that brands are adapting their messaging, strategy, and priorities to cater to this new age of consumers.

But while consumer habits have become ingrained, so too have professional ones – hybrid work is set to stay and the lines between our professional and personal lives are blurring more than ever. Added into this mix is the notion that many people are taking this opportunity to re-prioritise what’s important to them, with as many as one in five UK workers indicating they are likely to change jobs in the next 12 months. Further research reveals over 50% of consumers stated the pandemic caused them to completely revaluate what is important to them.

Many are now arguing that it is in fact the time for the ‘Great Reprioritisation’ – but, are advertisers prepared for this shift?

Introducing “The Workday Consumer”

New research from Microsoft Advertising revealed that 60% of global consumers now complete a mix of work and personal tasks in their to-do lists during working hours. As the boundaries blurred between our work life and personal lives, the Workday Consumer emerged – an individual who unapologetically switches between employee, personal, and consumer modes throughout the day online.

Furthermore, 59% consider their work and personal tasks to be of equal importance during their work time. The Workday Consumer shows no signs of slowing down either, as 44% of respondents expect the number of online purchases they make during the workday to only increase during the next 12 months. Whether it’s due to the convenience of using one computer to do it all, or building in breaks from work tasks, consumers are using their work PCs to tick off tasks including grocery shopping, planning weekend activities, managing their money and researching holidays or upgrades to the home office.

This permanent behaviour change reflecting the collision of the work and personal life, however, is something that most marketers are currently unaware of, or unequipped to capitalise on long term, leaving them at risk of being behind the curve. 

Unlocking opportunities

Currently, brands, marketers and advertisers are yet to seize the opportunity that the Workday Consumer brings. In an additional study, 67% of global marketing and advertising leaders rated their own brands as novice or intermediate when it comes to building in-depth understandings of their different customer personas. Consequently, many have mixed confidence in their brands’ ability to use the right mix of digital advertising tactics to reach each persona, with half rating their brand as intermediate and 7% rating it as novice.

Although their lack of optimism in their organisation’s abilities was surprising, it speaks to the need for brands to do away with outdated approaches to customer personas that focus solely on demographics and purchase histories and rarely consider more nuanced cues. They must seek to understand the additional facets of the customer experience, such as emotions, feelings, social-expression, and relatability that indicate what mindset their potential customers are truly in.  Otherwise, they will struggle to convert customer data into actionable insights that drive their online advertising strategies.

The more empowered advertisers are to better understand their target audiences’ thoughts and behaviours during the customer decision journey, the more likely they will be to reach them where they are. Savvy marketers know that new consumer behaviours offer them an opportunity to build better strategies, which can have a measurable impact on their bottom line, but simply require the software and tools that can enable them to do that.

The best advertisers know that new consumer behaviours give them a chance to build better strategies. As such, by adapting to meet the demands of the Workday Consumer, brands can unlock opportunities and engage with untapped audiences. By doing so, brands will ensure they’re not only surviving, but thriving, amid challenging conditions and new rules of engagement.