According to our latest research on fear, there is an important linkage between how fearful you are and the sources you look to for information on issues. We explored a range of attitudinal statements about fear and confidence and found that news media source consumption played a significant role in perceptions and behaviors. While this may not be surprising in and of itself, people’s choices about where to get news are clearly playing a role in how they view the world around them. This, in turn, impacts their purchasing behavior and stress levels around shopping.
We have long maintained that brands must shift their thinking to a more consumer-centric model both in general, and especially when looking to understand the voice of the consumer. Deep understanding of a consumer includes diving into what is affecting their behaviors. Our proprietary study, which encompassed 1,300 nationally representative adult respondents in the United States, illustrates clearly that news consumption is a big driver of both fear levels and shopping styles.
Media Consumption Groups
In order to understand how groups of people are consuming news, we clustered our respondents into major groups based on their preferred media sources. These groups include:
• Mainstream Informed (52% boomers): This group is primarily turning to informed-but-mainstream sources, like major newspapers, podcasts, BBC and The Guardian.
• Network News (nearly equal among all ages, with 33% Gen Z/millennials, 34% Gen X and 33% boomers): This group primarily relies on mainstream network news, though they also turn to Google and Yahoo! News more than others.
• Online/Social (68% Gen Z/millennials): This group is looking to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, along with modern news sites like BuzzFeed and Axios.
• Basic Mainstream (45% boomers): This group generally looks to the most mainstream sources, like CNN and USA Today, but they don’t review as many sources as their counterparts in Mainstream Informed (3.7 sources consulted versus 7.4 sources).
• Fox Viewer (45% boomers): Fox News viewers form their own cluster, though many of them also look to Network News, Facebook and The Wall Street Journal.
What we found with each of these groups was that the media consumed directly affected global and personal outlook, and how fearful they felt about things like financial stability. For example, the Mainstream Informed group was the least positive overall, feeling that things are headed in the wrong direction globally, while the financial system is stacked against them. Conversely, the Fox Viewer is the most positive on a macro-level, believing that the world is headed in the right direction and that their personal finances and the financial system are working for them. Other groups range between positive and pessimistic outlooks, comprising varying levels of confidence and enthusiasm.
Differing Approaches To Shopping
Brands should be aware that the differences among these groups have a direct impact on shopping behavior and attitudes. At a very high level, we found that the respective groups shop in the following ways:
• Mainstream Informed group members care mostly about function, prefer niche brands and plan their decisions ahead, even though they enjoy shopping less than other groups.
• The Network News segment likes shopping and finds it easy, but finds big purchases stressful.
• Our Online/Social Group makes decisions on the spur of the moment and cares more about style/form than other segments. They are also increasing their spending over time more than other groups.
• Basic Mainstream individuals prefer mainstream brands and find shopping harder.
• Fox Viewers are in the middle on shopping perceptions, though they do find expensive purchases more stressful than other segments. They are the most likely to say that their purchases reflect their personality.
Even though some studies show that people are actively reducing their news consumption by 39%, the fact is that there is a massive amount of information still out there for the taking. How we are seeking out that information, actively or not, affects our perceptions of the world around us. Brands need to deeply understand their audiences, including how they are consuming news, in order to create messages and products that will make the best impact.