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The New Budget Conscious Consumer

With the economy transforming overnight, consumers across the board are, of course, cutting spend and reevaluating budgets to adjust to the new state of the state. In fact, in a response to the financial challenges of COVID-19, our previous study revealed 91% of consumers are adopting new behaviors to save money.

Mediahub spoke to 1000 shoppers in June 2020 to better understand the shifts in priorities that will shape consumers as COVID-19 continues to evolve, and uncovered a new budget conscious consumer that is rising as we move into the future. The new budget-conscious shopper is rewriting the rules on what it means to be just that. Instead they are thinking beyond deals, doubling down on their values, and turning to digital moments of inspiration—while embracing brands that do the same.

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Meet the Boycott Boosters

The #StopHateForProfit boycott of Facebook Inc. kicked off this July, with major brands such as Disney and Unilever pulling their ad spending on the platform for the month of July as part of an effort to force the social media giant to step up its moderation of hate speech. And despite all the headlines around the potential financial impact of the brand boycott on Facebook and how brands should re-allocate their advertising budgets, what’s missing in the story is the real impact on consumers.

Mediahub fielded a Scout consumer study to better understand where consumers stand in regards to the movement today, and how this shapes their perception on brands. Our research uncovered that for those consumers who are aware of the boycott, it is a powerful motivator for brand perception and loyalty. These are the Boycott Boosters, who believe in #StopHateForProfit and more importantly believe in brands to drive change.

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Retail in a world forever changed

The global pandemic is holding a mirror to our faces, challenging us to question our spending habits. And arguably, no sector has been harder hit than retail. In March alone, when our country was closed for only two weeks, retail sales went down 50%, and with the bankruptcy filing of J.Crew this month, the pandemic has claimed its first retail casualty.

But there is hope. Despite likely broad and fundamental changes to the retail experience as we knew it, one in four people say that shopping is the activity they are most looking forward to getting back to after the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

So how can retailers prepare to meet both new customer expectations as well as government health regulations? We surveyed Americans to understand what they want most from retailers going forward, and how brands can step up to meet these needs.

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Gaming as a cultural and marketing mainstay

Gaming has evolved. Once thought of as a niche activity with limited mainstream impact, it’s grown exponentially to a point where it is now its own media channel, social platform, content pillar, and cultural phenomenon whose influence has reached all major foundations of pop culture; from sports, to music, to fashion, and even Hollywood.

Yet, most brands’ current gaming approaches barely scrape the surface. They are missing out on opportunities to take advantage of the nuances of gaming vs streaming, who plays what kind of game, or what’s been sacrificed as a result of the tremendous growth.

This latest Scout study uncovers the key trends emerging in gaming; dispels the myths around this growing channel and cultural phenomenon; and provides actionable, tangible ways brands can start getting involved with the gaming community.

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Black Lives Matter: How brands can become committed allies beyond the news cycle

The killing of George Floyd, and many before him, as a result of police brutality has brought about a national conversation on racial injustice and systemic racism. It has catapulted the Black Lives Matter movement into a ubiquitous standing, ever-present in our communities, screens, devices, and social feeds. This movement has forced brands to think about and question how to respond, behave, and commit to being an ally.

Brands have the opportunity to engage in activism, far beyond a hashtag, in order to become a true ally to this movement. This means fighting for change online and offline, with continued advocacy that grows stronger even after media attention has died down, focusing on activism that goes far beyond virtue-signaling and instead amplifies the voices of the movement to create real change.

Mediahub took a consumer-first approach in understanding the most effective ways for brands to grow their allyship, using proprietary Scout research, industry insights, and social listening to understand what action consumers are calling for. In this study, we explore how brands can commit to making lasting changes and continue to strive for a more just society.

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How Brands Should Think and Act in a World Forever Changed

COVID-19 has been a traumatic and deeply personal event for people around the world. As marketers, we have not seen a moment so rapidly and ubiquitously impact so many consumers’ daily lives. And the lasting efects of the virus may even shape a whole generation of Americans going forward, even more acutely for those communities who have experienced greater devastation. With consumers themselves transformed, we know as marketers that a pre-pandemic plan cannot remain unaltered.

Our Scout research, undertaken over eight weeks in March and April as the landscape in the U.S. shifted dramatically, analyzes how people will feel, think, and behave now that quarantine has effectively replaced offices, schools, bars, and stores with one word—home. Our findings provide not only a reflection of the current state of the consumer psyche, but also reveal a brand blueprint for how to honor and prioritize the new values systems being created during this unprecedented time.

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2020 Vision: Political Preparedness in a Cutthroat Climate

As our calendars turned over to 2020, we started hearing the same question from our clients with regard to the election: “How bad is it really going to be?” Amid this burgeoning political climate and multitude of media and consumer impacts, we at Mediahub sought to help brands step into 2020 with greater confidence and the right intel and tools to resonate with their consumers. Through our newest piece of research, we found that whether you’re a politician or a marketer, not all voters/consumers can be approached the same. The tribes of voters that came about in the aftermath of 2016—whom we’ve dubbed the Avids, the Indifferent, and the Burned—represent varying needs to be satisfied during the 2020 cycle, and should serve as a foundation for determining an individual brand’s involvement either at the epicenter or the periphery of political topics and conversations. Ultimately, no brand should go into 2020 with the assumption that their audience cannot be reached, and instead can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that information—through a litany of media sources—will reign as the supreme currency.

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The New Culture Codes of Luxury

In our latest Scout custom study of luxury, we wanted to unearth how luxury brands should think about media in an environment where the future does not fit into containers of the past. We found that in the hunt for personal connection and authenticity, consumers are moving away from the typical industry insiders as trusted sources of influence in luxury. Gone are the days of untouchable models being the height of inspiration; consumers are looking for a new layer of velocity, flair, and realness as they seek out inspiration. No longer can brands guarantee success by spending millions on gatefolds and cover fours or by blanketing SoHo or Williamsburg with high-impact outdoor. Through our research, we have come to understand that traditionally trusted media venues for luxury have perceived authority, but it is the always-on feed that has the ultimate influence and power.

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How to Take a Brand Stand and Win in This
Emerging and Important Space

Cause marketing, or what is now commonly referred to as “brand stand” is not going away. Emerging generations are pushing brands more than ever to think beyond themselves, creating heightened pressure for brands to take a stand. And this is a positive shift: Consumers are ultimately giving brands permission to find a voice in larger social movements. But with this newfound voice comes a sharpened sense of responsibility, as consumers amp up both their expectations and their skepticism of brands taking a stand. So in this Scout custom study, we set out to understand how brands should act and win in the space.

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The New Voices—Preparing for a Heads-Up World

The voice revolution has arrived. The reality is that developments in AI have become a part of everyday life: One out of every six people across the U.S. owns an in-home assistant, market penetration of these devices just surpassed wearables, and not too long ago a baby’s first word was “Alexa.” This excites us. It excites us because we get to be at the forefront of change. It excites us because it is a moment when humanity begins to change how it works and interacts with its surroundings. Yes, 50% of all searches in 2020 will be voice, but digging deeper, it means that we as humans will be using our temporal lobe more frequently—building our brain's hearing and imaginative skills and relying less on visual cues than in years before. And all of that means change for brands, marketers, and communicators.

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The Fragmented—New Audiences in a Multi-Device World

We all know that the world of TV is being turned on its head, but what does it mean for the viewers? Through extensive research, we at Mediahub found that this disruption has wrought a new viewer, whom we’ve dubbed the Fragmented. They are both empowered and utterly overwhelmed by the abundance of choices and pressures of the herd to keep up. The definition of “TV” is fluid, as the Fragmented perceive and consume TV differently. And as they weave in and out of ad-supported content across devices at dizzying rates, this will have an increasingly massive impact on advertising. Ultimately, brands who rely heavily on advertising will need to shift to a much more holistic, flexible, and agile approach.

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Connection via Emerging American Values

America is going through change. And that means brands in America are going through change as well.

With the aging of the Millennial and Gen X cohorts, and the rise of Gen Z, Mediahub realized it was time to take a look at what it meant to be a brand in America in 2018.

What we found was a beautiful mosaic of change. And opportuninity for brands. While the old values of “Made in the USA” are definitely dying, new American values of entrepreneurship, diversity, and social justice are forming, and new generations expect brands and companies to have a point of view.

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