Study: Consumer Spending and Marketing Budgets Set to Rebound in Q4 and 2021

OpenX released a new study with leading market research company The Harris Poll examining the variety of ways that both consumer behavior and marketing tactics have changed in 2020. From an economic perspective, the report paints a promising picture, and in a year when 54 percent of consumers say they are spending less money, and 61 percent of marketers have cut budget, both groups expect a rebound and return to normal in Q4 and 2021.

Despite the pandemic, 58 percent of consumers expect to spend the same amount or more than recent years this holiday season, and nearly half of all marketers plan to add money back into the budget in Q4. Of those marketers that will add money back into the budget, 80 percent say it will be equal to or larger than their budget pre-COVID-19.

For 2021, while most consumers say it is too early to tell what they will spend, more than a third already say they will spend more in 2021 than 2020. For marketers, 70 percent expect their 2021 budgets to be larger than their post-COVID 2020 budgets, and 34 percent expect their budgets to be larger than the 2020 budgets pre-COVID-19.

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Other key findings from the report include:

  • 2020 led to eCommerce growth. Since the onset of COVID-19, 44 percent of consumers have increased their online shopping, and 8 percent of consumers are now making daily online purchases. For marketers, 39 percent say they have added to their e-commerce offerings since the onset of COVID-19, and 74 percent of marketers report their online sales are up since COVID-19 began.
  • News is booming. 74 percent of consumers are reading or watching the news more since COVID began, and 68 percent of marketers say they have altered their company’s marketing/advertising strategy to capitalize.
  • Ad adjacency matters more to marketers than consumers. 80 percent of consumers say that seeing a brand next to a story about COVID-19 would either have no impact on their opinion of the brand, or may actually have a positive impact, yet 40 of marketers took proactive measures to avoid being associated with COVID-19 content.
  • Weighing in on social justice issues is risky but can have a positive business outcome. 82 percent of marketers think consumers want brands to acknowledge social justice issues, yet only 46 percent of consumers actually want this. However, of marketers that acknowledged, or took some action around the George Floyd incident, 52 percent say it had a positive impact, and only 7 percent say it had a negative impact.
  • Marketers learned a lot in 2020. 74 percent of marketers say that they made changes to their marketing strategy during COVID-19 that will continue, even when the pandemic is over. Specifically, 56 percent of marketers say they will continue to concentrate more on digital channels.

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“2020 has been a year that no one could have expected, with massive global disruption leading to changes in consumer spending and the types of media consumers engage with,” said John Gentry, CEO, OpenX. “What we found in this report, however, is that marketers have a very good sense of the consumer mindset in today’s environment. When consumers cut spending, marketers did the same, and now that consumers are starting to spend more, we’re seeing marketing budgets rise as well. 80 percent of marketers say that they are ready to adapt to a second wave of COVID-19 if it happens, showing that as an industry, we are adjusting to the new normal, and business is continuing to push forward.”

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