A survey titled the MoneyGram Data Index, which draws data from the U.S. populace, looks at how consumer behavior and expectations toward companies have evolved since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This type of information can prove valuable for businesses, especially those in the detail and services sector as they attempt to bounce back from the disruption of the last year.
When it comes to where U.S. consumers choose to spend their money, social media influence outweighs social or political feelings, according to the headline result from the study.
In addition, and as a blow to the wannabee celebrity, when considering who has the most impact online, family and friends trump influencers.
Indeed, more consumers say they were swayed by family or friends on social media than by influencers. One in five consumers (21 percent) said they bought a product or a service in the last year because a family member or friend recommended it on social media.
In stark contrast, only 11 percent were minded to report they bought a product or service because an influencer promoted it on social media.
Influencer marketing was a buzzword in marketing for a number of years. It led to the creation of sprightly neologisms such as: “Nano-influencers,” “micro-influencers,” “macro-influencers” and even “mega-influencers.” Now it seems the influence of the Influencer is in a downward direction, a direction picked up on by Forbes.
In a more pressing area of disappointment, and one more important than lining the pockets of influencers, was the finding that despite enflamed political commentary over the past year, including numerous calls to boycott companies for a variety of political or social positions, only 14 percent of consumers say they decided to stop using a product/service because a company took an opposing political position.
This is a sad shift from the days when consumer power was far stronger and could influence the course of economic development. Take 2012:
Mini Babybel offered an apology and withdrew a number of products after disability campaigners called for a boycott of their cheese after the company ran a marketing campaign that used the phrase ‘Mentally ill holidays’.
Johnson & Johnson reformulated all of its baby products to remove a formaldehyde-releasing preservative. This move occurred in response to a report and boycott call from the US Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) over the company’s use of harmful chemicals in its baby shampoo.
When asked to choose between environmental, social and governance (what marketers call ESG) priorities for businesses to put first, 35 percent of U.S. consumers chose social priorities. This means that while ESG is not a top factor in making purchasing decisions, out of the three components, the ‘S’ stands as the more important concern for consumers.
Bubbling below this, at 24 percent, were those who chose environmental priorities. Only 12 percent opted for governance priorities (covering such matters as child exploitation in some factories that manufacture sneakers).
There are some successes, however. In July 2020, Ivanka Trump closed her fashion brand, after boycotts from consumers following her father’s election.
A surprisingly high proportion, at 28 percent, said they had no opinion. However, easing from the pandemic awareness of fundamental matters of political and social power will occupy the spend-ready consumers in the U.S. more fully.