What consumers want in 2022 Show me

Let’s get the hard truth out the way first: companies need to stop being so data-driven. 

You may be wondering (and rightfully so) why GWI – the world’s leading audience insights company – would say something that sounds so fundamentally against the fabric of what we do.

Here’s how we see things.

Fact: Businesses should be data-led, not data-driven.

The world has shifted since the pandemic. Being data-led, rather than data-driven, is now crucial for business success in 2022. 

While both terms are often used interchangeably, they actually mean slightly different things.

Without getting hung up on semantics, Google defines ‘data-driven’ as: “determined by or dependent on the collection or analysis of data.”

And there’s the rub. If businesses are absolutely “determined by” or “dependent on” data, they limit themselves by making decisions solely based on face-value data. We wouldn’t do that in any other aspect of our lives, so why take that risk with business? 

That’s like buying a product online without checking for any customer reviews, or even doing a price comparison. Most of us do our research first, and it usually pays off. Because there’s value in seeing the bigger picture.

It’s the same story with data. KPIs are great for showing you what’s working with your target market right now, but they don’t help you to predict changes, spot wider regional trends, or jump on emerging micro-trends.

That’s why you need to give vanity metrics the boot. Focus instead on unique human insights and what they mean for your business. What’s happening with your customers, and why? 

Wherever you are data-informed (not dictated) you have the opportunity to learn and grow. 

Take our latest GWI Zeitgeist data, for example. We know that employees find working from home beneficial, but what are the main motivations behind that? 

For 46.3% of web users worldwide, it’s being able to spend more time with family – the most popular response to this question. 

With this level of human insight, you can start to contextualize your data and understand the real people behind the numbers.

Fiction: You can never have too much data.

If the pandemic hasn’t proven the value of staying glued to changing customer behaviors and attitudes, nothing will. We’ve seen firsthand how consumer priorities have changed overnight.

In light of such uncertainty, analysts at traditionally data-driven companies are struggling to make sense of the sheer volume of data coming through at pace. And if you can’t make sense of your data, you’re missing the value of research altogether. 

Dell Technologies recently acknowledged this, as 59% of Intel survey respondents reported gathering data faster than they could analyse and use it. This is echoed in our own research:

69% of data professionals say their biggest challenge is finding the right data or insights, while 53% struggle to measure ROI effectively.

In the finance sector, Citigroup is solving this problem by taking a more data-led approach to understanding customer behavior, using relevant human insights to quickly tap into trends and drive more value.

Having a global view of audience data is a huge advantage, as you can more easily compare emerging trends across regions and markets to pinpoint new ROI opportunities your competitors haven’t spotted yet. 

This way, if consumer behavior starts to change, you’re already ahead of the curve, with the time and agility to react to it.

Fact: Intuition and innovation are crucial.

If mass data juggling wasn’t enough, today’s consumers also demand increasingly unique and personalized experiences. 

To deliver them at scale, businesses need to:

  • Bring research in-house – with reliable human insights on demand, you can tap into customer needs as they change to help you make fast informed decisions in the moment
  • Get the full scope of audiences – from social listening and engagement around wider conversational topics, to deeper audience segmentation for tailor-made experiences
  • Leave room for innovation – with the right talent on board, trust in fresh thinking and intuition to help you drive greater value

Being data-led gives you the freedom and agility to unpack the core motivations behind big shifts in the market, uncovering key insights that help to steer your marketing strategy in the right direction.
If you only focus on incremental gains, there’s no chance of spotting new, valuable cross-market opportunities.

Where innovation exists, business thrives. As long as you’re willing to push the boundaries and experiment, using data to minimise risk and learn from experience, you’ll successfully drive long-term growth.

Take Samsung, for example. Choosing to stray from the usual sleek, spec-focused smartphone ads consumers expect to see, they created an ad specifically targeting mobile gamers for the launch of their latest chip. Using clever storytelling, they tapped into niche gaming references to promote the chip’s 4K console-quality capability.

A very smart move, if you ask us. 

GWI’s latest research shows that gaming is now more popular amongst Gen Z consumers than TV, with 54% in the US interested in gaming. It’s proving not to be a lockdown fad, but a significant shift in consumer behavior.

Whilst Samsung isn’t traditionally considered to be a gaming contender, they clearly understand the value of innovation to conquer new markets like this, with a complete picture of who these consumers are and what they care about. What a genius way to boost their market share.

By keeping your finger on the pulse of changing consumer trends and truly understanding your audience, you too can open the door to new revenue streams and cross-market growth opportunities. 

That’s the power of data-led marketing.

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