Sheltering in place has caused major shifts
With millions of Canadians spending more time at home, they’re getting their news, information, and entertainment from their tablets, computers, and smartphones. And the impact of this on consumer behavior and media consumption across digital channels is something businesses and companies need to understand and address going forward.
Canadians are consuming news coverage at a record pace while sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.i And as social distancing measures remain in effect, consumers are changing the way they engage with digital content and advertising across all platforms.
Why care about what consumers are watching?
In the wake of social distancing, consumers have drastically changed their buying habits. As Concordia University marketing and finance professor Robert Soroka puts it, “This pandemic has forced consumers to break their shopping patterns. It has done what it would take years to accomplish if a marketer was trying to change consumption patterns.” ii
When it comes to the media Canadians are consuming, categories like toys, apparel, and books have experienced major gains.iii Companies need to adapt to these changes early and often, and that starts with understanding where their customers’ eyes are looking.
The generational gaps in media consumption
While Gen Zers, Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers have all increased their media consumption while staying home, the platforms and content they are consuming – and their consumption habits themselves – have changed in a number of interesting ways.
Across generations, 68% of consumers are checking for daily pandemic updates – but there has been a major shift toward online sources among Gen Zers, Millennials, and Gen Xers. iv Gen Z and Millennial consumers are watching much more online video, online TV, and broadcast TV, while Gen Xers are watching more TV than any other generation.
What about the Baby Boomers?
While other generations have changed their viewing habits, Baby Boomers have remained stable – they know what they like and they’re sticking with it. While they are getting more comfortable with mobile devices and streaming servicesv, Baby Boomers still spend the most time watching broadband TV. And while Canadian Baby Boomers spend less time than their generational counterparts on social media in general, when they are on Facebook or Instagram they are spending similar amount of time interacting with products and brands: 24% of the time compared to 23% and 25% for Gen X and Millennials respectively. vi
Although consumer spending in Canada experienced a huge downturn in late March, research indicates that Baby Boomers generally have a “spend now, save later” attitude, and will resume their spending once we arrive at the “new” normal. vii
Right time, right place, right message
So what does all of this mean for companies and marketers? Firstly, in order to communicate with consumers, companies need to be where they are – or more specifically, where they’re looking. For companies seeking to reach a Baby Boomer audience, sticking to traditional platforms should yield successful results.
Secondly, messages need to be adapted to the current situation and climate. Knowing that audiences are more frequently checking the news for COVID-19 updates means that communications need to remain sensitive to the ongoing crisis, while picking up on key communication topics that have become the most relevant.
At the end of the day, whether it’s placing messages in the right channel (social, email, radio, television), or keeping content relevant to your target audience (health, finances, security), understanding the media and consumption habits of all generations of Canadians will allow thoughtful companies to deliver the right message at the right time, and maximize their message’s relevance.
Have your own opinions or insights into consumer behaviour in the current climate? Share them with us in the comments below!
- Posted by Prerna
- On May 7, 2020
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