Marketing Trends 2022: What Americans Want From Brands

Attest, a consumer research platform for the world’s biggest brands, today releases new data on the marketing trends that will shape 2022.

The research is found within the second annual US Consumer Trends report that tracks sentiment and behaviors ahead of the new year, as well as a targeted marketing survey conducted on 2,000 working-age consumers. Key findings include:

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1. US consumers want brands to be funny in 2022, yet socially responsible: 

  • As the pandemic and negative news cycles drag on, consumers say they most want to hear, see and experience humor from brands (57%) in 2022. By contrast, last year only 4% said they wanted brands to make them feel “amused”, signaling a stark consumer shift away from serious messaging.

  • Behind humor, consumers are most likely to want brands to be motivational (47%) next year. Educational, thought-provoking and reassuring messaging all more or less tie for third place (at 34%).

  • Poverty & inequality, and racism (both at 36%) are the top issues that the public wishes brands to take a stand on next year. Younger Americans feel more strongly about this –  46% of Gen Z want brands to tackle racism versus 30% of Boomers. By contrast, nearly a quarter of Americans (24%) state they “don’t want brands to be political” at all.

2. Despite heightened consumer privacy concerns, a narrow majority of Americans still see the value exchange in data tracking:  

  • When it comes to brands tracking consumer data online in order to recommend products and services, there’s an interesting split on sentiment. 26% of consumers are “bothered” by data tracking, while a slim majority (27%) feel it can be “useful if used responsibly”.

  • Over a third of consumers (35%) feel like ads are targeted to their needs “all of the time”. The majority sits at 43% of people feeling as though they “sometimes” do.

  • When polled on if they believe brands use their data responsibly on the internet, 52% of consumers cite they “neither agree nor disagree”. Only 2% “strongly disagree”.

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3. Brands wanting to reach Gen Z should swap email marketing for TikTok: 

  • Gen Z shows the lowest receptiveness to email marketing and is the demographic most likely to not want to hear from brands in their inbox at all (18%). On the other hand, they’re the demographic most likely to say they interact with or follow brands on TikTok; 45% up from 33% last year.

  • Age demographics aside, brand interaction on TikTok has risen overall from 15% to 25% since last year – making it the social platform for marketers to watch in 2022.

Jeremy King, CEO and Founder of Attest, said of the research: “As we head into the new year, this research points to Americans really wanting brands to help them escape from everyday reality. When we asked a similar question about sentiment towards brand messaging last year, only a tiny 4% wanted to be ‘amused’ by brands. However, fast-forward through another difficult year for consumers and what’s likely fatigue around bad news, Americans are seeking out entertainment in 2022.

“What’s also come to the fore in this data is that the public is also demanding that brands take stands on societal issues. However, for consumers, it’s critical that purpose-driven marketing is authentic and not merely a platitude.”

“Another compelling finding – and perhaps a surprising one – is despite the rising concerns and negative media surrounding consumer privacy, a slim majority of Americans find data tracking ‘useful if used responsibly’ to bring them closer to products and services they want. As we advance into a cookieless future, this poses an interesting conundrum for digital marketers who aim to stay targeted in their campaigns.”

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