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Positive trends for marketers: 5 stats that prove it’s not all bad news

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, it can feel like there is no good news out there for the economy or for marketers. However, we at Umault are inclined to look for the bright side. We figured that couldn’t be all bad, so we sent Tory out to gather up some good news.

She came back with these five positive consumer trends despite COVID-19 that we hope will let a little sunshine back in your feed. They certainly cheered us up.

5 stats that should make marketers optimistic (despite COVID)

  1. According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence rose to 86.6 in May from 85.7 in April.
  2. While spending on some categories has sharply declined, spending in other areas has measurably increased.
  3. Social distancing has forced accelerated business and digital transformation.
  4. Social media use has exploded with 47% of users (ages 16-64) saying they are spending more time on social media.
  5. The personal savings rate jumped from ~7% to ~13% between January 2020 and February 2020.

Listen or read the transcript below to learn more about each one.

Sources: stat 1, stat 2, stat 2, stat 3, stat 3, stat 4, stat 4, stat 5

Key quotes

"The takeaway here is that people are open to making purchases. So this is probably a time, if you did pause any of your marketing or advertising efforts, that you should consider ramping those back up." - Hope Morley
"It’s time to look at the way that your business has transformed, or your marketing efforts have transformed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and thinking what's good that we want to keep going forward and what do we really want to go back to. We should be really thinking critically about that and not just assuming that we're going to go back exactly to the way things were, and discard all this stuff that might have been useful. We can bring it together, and have a patchwork of what works and what didn't for you." - Hope Morley
"To completely avoid social, or not take a closer look at how you can be doing better on social is to your business's peril at this point. Even for B2B, that's where people are. If you don't have a social strategy even as a B2B company, it's something you need to start diving into." - Tory Merritt


For more on B2B video marketing, visit our B2B video marketing guide.

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below.

Episode transcript

Hope Morley: Hello, and welcome to So You Need a Video, a podcast about boosting your business with video marketing. I'm Hope Morley.

Tory Merritt: I'm Tory Merritt.

Guy Bauer: I'm Guy Bauer.

Hope Morley: And welcome to another episode recorded from home. So, we are recording this the first week of June, so just as of yesterday ... We're based in Chicago, and Chicago is now opened back up for businesses, but we are choosing to keep our team at home for the time being. So we're not back in the studio yet, hopefully soon.

Hope Morley: But that leads into our topic of this week, as the economy starts to open up. I think as marketers, we’ve been looking — a lot of the news, a lot at what's going on and thinking, is there any good news out there, as marketers, as business people, looking at the economy? So we wanted to share five facts that might help you as a marketer sleep a little better tonight, to see that the economy, maybe it's not all so bad.

Hope Morley: So we'll get started, and thank you Tory, for compiling these. I will link to sources for all of these things that we share, in the show notes today. But, let's get started.

Hope Morley: So stat number one that might make you feel a little bit better in this post-COVID world. According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence rose to 86.6 in May, from 85.7 in April, so it looks like consumer sentiment is raising a little bit, feeling a little bit better. And for reference, in 2009, it bottomed out at 50, so we're looking not so bad, as consumers.

Tory Merritt: Yeah, I really liked this statistic because depending on how immersed you are in what you're listening to, everything feels really yucky right now, and the economy is very scary. We're talking a lot about the Great Recession, and how things compare to that. I thought this was a nice stat that demonstrated actually, while it is very scary, people are more confident in spending, and more confident in the economy as a whole, than they were during the Great Recession, even with everything happening in such a compounded amount of time.

Tory Merritt: It seems like there is some concept there of, while everything was shoved into a short amount of time, that lends itself to potentially things getting back faster as well. The stat was saying that they think a lot of this is based on people are feeling and hoping that the constriction that we're seeing, and the unemployment that we're seeing, is more temporary than it was during the Great Recession, where a lot of it was based on just the fact that people and tech weren't working together in ways that allowed people to keep jobs and deliver more value for the company.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, I can say just from personal experience, being in ground zero of the Great Recession, I lost my job, and that's when I started the company. But the Great Recession was somehow ... I don't want to diminish how bad things are right now, with COVID and unemployment and everything, but the recession, there was no light at the end of the tunnel. It was really hard to see how we were ... Literally, when I got laid off I was like, "I'm never going to work again," that's literally what crossed my mind.

Guy Bauer: In this recession, we all know the reason why there's a recession. So just speaking personally, it's scary, there's no doubt that things aren't great right now. But I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we all know what those scenarios are. It's vaccine, it's treatment, it's herd immunity, whatever. We all know that this isn't going to last forever. It's debated how long the timeline is, but we all can agree there is a timeline. Whereas, the Great Recession, there was no timeline, and it turned out that it took a decade, right?

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Guy Bauer: Just to clarify, consumer confidence is at 88?

Hope Morley: 86.6 in May.

Guy Bauer: 86. And it bottomed out at 50 in the Great Recession?

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Guy Bauer: So that's pretty good news. It's okay if you don't know the answer to this, but what does consumer confidence mean? Does that just mean how confident I am that I'm going to buy this TV, and not be destitute because I bought it?

Tory Merritt: Again, you'd have to look in the specific definition of the two sources that Hope's referring to. But the layman's term, I believe it is are people willing to part with money for non-needs. Not food, transportation, but items that fall outside of that. Again, you'll have to fact check me on that, but that's always been the general, layman's definition that I've had in my head at least.

Guy Bauer: Well, I would say that that's pretty good news, then.

Hope Morley: Yeah, the takeaway here is, I think, that people are open to making purchases. So this is probably a time, if you did pause any of your marketing or advertising efforts, that you might consider ramping those back up. You might have to pivot your messaging, and a lot of people have talked about that, but it's not really the time to completely pause your marketing and advertising efforts.

Tory Merritt: Yeah, and any sort of longer term, you shouldn't. I think there's plenty of evidence talking, even, about the great ... yay, password required ... Talking about the Great Depression, and the fact that the companies that were able to keep spending, the one that comes to mind specifically is Disney, actually fared better once the Depression was over, than the companies that completely stopped their efforts. And knowing that the consumer sentiment is above where it was even for the Great Recession, to completely stop for any long period of time doesn't make sense. You should find ways to shift and reallocate, but to stop spending ... there's dollars out there for people to give to you, it's just finding the best way to set up your marketing and advertising to create the confidence that you are the person to spend it with.

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Hope Morley: So stat number two, we've seen that spending in some categories has sharply declined since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. But, spending in other areas has measurably increased, so we've got a long list here, I'm just going to name a couple of these that I think are really interesting.

Hope Morley: So personal care and skincare, people are still taking care of themselves. Fitness and wellness is a big one, that people ... I know, personally, my husband was trying to buy some home yoga supplies, he wanted yoga blocks.

Tory Merritt: It's impossible!

Hope Morley: Sold out.

Tory Merritt: It's impossible, yeah.

Hope Morley: Hotel and travel bookings are perking back up a little bit. And then, tech solutions for things like telemedicine, video conferencing. We've all heard endless stories about the success of Zoom recently. And, 40 to 60 percent of consumers plan to continue using some of these tech solutions after the pandemic. So we're not going to go back to the beginning, it's not a temporary spike.

Tory Merritt: Yeah, which I think is interesting because we're hoping that some of the negative effects are temporary. But then, we're also hoping that some of the way we've shifted behaviors are longer term, because they're more efficient. Like you said, talking about telemedicine and these things, we've got a client that talks a lot about the human experience, I think you're seeing these people being forced to shift to being more efficient has demonstrated a benefit to humanity as a whole.

Tory Merritt: We talked about the health sector, I think there's a bit opportunity now for people who want to do things at home. Gyms, at least in Illinois, are still not open for indoor things outside of personal training, so that's going to continue. I think we've seen a lot more platforms, and people using workout equipment at home, so I think that will continue. As well as the sentiment of, what can I do at home, what can I DIY, versus what makes sense to go somewhere else to do, or have someone else help me do.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. Finally, my listening to Bloomberg every morning is paying off because I can say Peloton stock is crazy, I think LifeFitness, anyone who makes a work at home gym is doing extremely well.

Guy Bauer: If you just look at this platform we're on, is called Streamyard. If you are a regular YouTuber watching our shows here, usually we just use Google Meet. But this week, we upgraded to Streamyard. I have to assume that this company is making a ton of money right now.

Hope Morley: Yeah. I think we've also heard the headlines, some big Silicon Valley companies like Twitter and Facebook, have said that they're never going to ask their employees to come back to the office, and they're going to allow people to just start living anywhere, now that they've tested work-from-home and found a lot of success with it. So I think what we're going to see is that some of these tech solutions that allow remote work are going to keep their subscribers.

Tory Merritt: Yeah, looking at what's best for people's productivity, versus what's best, in a lot of cases for managers, who feel like they need to see what's going on. I think people know what's best for them, and giving them the opportunity to evaluate that, and make decisions based on how they work best ultimately benefits the company they work for, so I think that's a good thing.

Hope Morley: Yeah. So stat number three is related, I think we found that, since we've been forced into this social or physical distancing, we've seen a forced accelerated business and digital transformation. A lot of clients, a lot of companies have been pushing this digital transformation narrative for a long time, but as we all know, especially with big corporations or any larger companies, if you're not forced into change, you might not want to do it. You don't want to put in the time, the money, the investment, you're just afraid of change.

Hope Morley: Now that we've all been forced into this change, we're seeing these new solutions being picked up by companies at a lot more rapid pace.

Tory Merritt: Yeah, I think it demonstrated that the risk to not change is demonstrably higher than the risk to change, which I'm not sure that had happened prior to this point. People were scared of I don't want things to go down, I don't want to take the time. What if we're on hold for a couple of days? Well, unfortunately we were forced to be on hold, and your opportunity was either use that time, like we've talked about, to rebuild the ship, or build the ship, work through-

Guy Bauer: It's a refit, Tory, refit.

Tory Merritt: Whatever.

Guy Bauer: My gosh.

Tory Merritt: Gosh, my military terminology is not up to snuff.

Tory Merritt: Yeah, to refit the ship. But, in this case, I think for a lot of people, it was to build a viable option for remote work, and remote communication, and getting data in a place where you didn't have to be on location to get to it, or use it. A lot of people I think were in the middle, and this really pushed people to say, "Okay, the risk is officially even, change, not change, so let's change."

Hope Morley: I think this is an opportunity for sales and marketing leaders to really think about how, going forward, about how they're going to be talking to their clients, and how they're going to be doing their sales. I think a lot of people have been forced into doing a lot more Zoom meetings and things like that, and it's a chance for companies to look at their budgets. And think about okay, do we need to be paying for travel in the same way? Can we just invest in these digital platforms?

Hope Morley: It's going to take some time for people to see if they've had enough success with virtual meetings compared to in-person meetings, and if they're losing something there. But, it's really a chance for people to try different things, think about allocating their budgets differently, experiment with new ways of sending your message to people. As opposed to if your company was very focused on in-person meetings, or conferences and trade shows, what can we do to send these messages to people?

Tory Merritt: You could make a video!

Guy Bauer: Hey!

Tory Merritt: Hey!

Hope Morley: Subtle.

Guy Bauer: Heyo!

Hope Morley: Coming back together.

Tory Merritt: Yeah. Yeah, it's finding the best ways to do things, I think there was a tendency to – everything has to be travel, everything has to be in-person. If you're not in person, you don't care. And then recognizing no, actually saving in-person for the bigger things that really need it, and then allowing people to hop on a 30 minute Zoom call for things that don't really is actually respecting people's time. And setting you up better for the big in-person that you actually need versus doing everything in-person, and burning people out.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. It's crazy. You know, this is the thing about life. We'll probably cut this out, but my business advisor says this, "You've got to be a submarine." So a submarine, if it gets too high in the water it gets blown out of the water, a battleship takes it out. If it gets too low, it hits the rocks. You have to be right in the middle, and I think the people that I'm seeing have the most success were able to get their mind right. Not panic, not go too high or low in any one ... Business is not being erased forever, it's not over, it's just different, right?

Guy Bauer: If you can keep your wits about you, there are opportunities, and maybe even more opportunities for you than existed before. Because now the game is changing, the playing field is morphing. Again, I listen to Bloomberg every morning, and the thing that they are puzzled by is that all the indicators, that if this indicator goes up, that means this indicator will go down, which means this thing will go up or down, based on those two indicators. Well right now, all the indicators are out of whack.

Tory Merritt: Yeah, they're not tied together, or correlated as much.

Guy Bauer: No, and none of them are working. That means that the game is reset, almost. Now's a great time to get your mental energy straight, and see how you can take advantage of the situation we're in.

Tory Merritt: Try to use it for good.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. Hey, in my years, all I can say is that there's always good and bad, always. It's just you have to get your mind out of, or rationalize, or whatever you have to do, but the faster you can be that submarine and be in the middle, keep an even keel, you can find the good. Think about it, I started the agency when I got laid off, which was a really bad event.

Hope Morley: Yeah, and it's looking at the way that your business has transformed, or your marketing efforts have transformed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and thinking what's good that we want to keep going forward, what do we really want to go back to, really thinking critically about that and not just assuming that we're going to go back exactly to the way things were, and discard all this stuff that might have been useful. We can bring it together, and have a patchwork of what works and what didn't for you.

Guy Bauer: Yeah.

Hope Morley: All right. Stat number four, this one's really applicable to marketers specifically. Social media use has just exploded recently, with 47% of users ... This is ages 16 to 64, so a huge range, this is basically everyone on social media, saying that they are spending more time on social media, so that was 47% of users, more time. And 15% of users saying they've planned to maintain that higher level of use, post pandemic. That means where are people going right now when they can't go out? They're going to social media, and they're planning to stay there, too.

Guy Bauer: Personally, I have downloaded ... I've been off Twitter for three, four years. I re-downloaded Twitter, and am back, engaged on the platform. I learned Reddit for the first time, and I love Reddit. Hope gets all my Karma updates ... By the way, my Karma count is at 72 now, I had a comment that was really good.

Hope Morley: Congratulations.

Tory Merritt: That one.

Guy Bauer: That one.

Hope Morley: Just kidding. Just kidding.

Guy Bauer: It's true, though.

Tory Merritt: All it takes is one, Guy. That's all it takes.

Guy Bauer: Right? It really is. Anyway, Reddit, Twitter. Of course, I've been on TikTok, because I'm the voice of the youth.

Tory Merritt: He is.

Guy Bauer: I've been on TikTok for over a year now, I still love it. I'm trying to think of what other social? I'm back on Facebook, I re-downloaded Facebook. So if it's any indicator in my habits, yeah.

Guy Bauer: The other thing is, we're running a social media campaign for our agency right now, and I can definitely see that the ad inventory is really cheap right now. Yeah, eyeballs, not a lot of ads being sold, it's a good time.

Tory Merritt: It's interesting, obviously it's day by day on the inventory. Yeah, what I liked about this stat is I think especially B2B people can’t decide should I really be on social, is social a viable platform for me, knowing that I'm not B2C, I'm B2B? I think what this stat shows is that's where people are, so it's up to you whether you want to use that to your business's benefit or not.

Tory Merritt: I think to completely avoid social, or not take a closer look at how you can be doing better on social is to your business's peril, at this point. Even for B2B, because that's what we're essentially selling, is video for B2B, and that's where people are. More people are there than ever, and they plan to spend more time there. So you really should, if you don't have a social strategy even as a B2B company, it's something you need to start diving into. And if you have one, ... We're in the game now, we're getting used to looking through the analytics, and they change every day. Keeping a close eye and monitoring the performance allows you to pivot and make decisions.

Tory Merritt: This is nothing new that no one's heard before, but I think it's something where, a lot of times it's set it and forget it, especially if you're newer to the game or don't have somebody to monitor it all the time, make sure that this becomes a priority, knowing that's where people are and they're going to be. Again, this forced a little bit of that digital transformation, and made you realize ... 16 to 64 is a wide range, and there were stats, actually, for above 64 as well, but that the biggest one, that was most mind blowing I think. So if you haven't dug in, it really is time, regardless of your industry.

Guy Bauer: Now's a great time to pick a platform, learn it, learn the cadence, learn the language, learn what works, what doesn't. Each platform has its own language, so you can't talk on Facebook like you talk on Reddit, and Twitter is different than the rest. And TikTok, you have to learn how to dance unfortunately, if you use TikTok.

Tory Merritt: I haven't mastered that, yet.

Guy Bauer: Actually, there is ... What did we do? The Blinding Lights challenge, as a family.

Hope Morley: Yeah, your family did, the agency didn't. Tory and I got to sit that one out.

Guy Bauer: Do you want to do one? We should do one.

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Guy Bauer: Come on.

Tory Merritt: Hope can do it.

Guy Bauer: You can dance. You guys know how to dance.

Tory Merritt: No, I'm awkward. Swimmers on land are so awkward.

Guy Bauer: But, this is a great ... especially with all the people that are on the platform. I would recommend diving into LinkedIn, and take control of your company page. Start seeing what works, what doesn't work. Just from personal experience, I can tell you that you got to have really high quality content on LinkedIn.

Tory Merritt: So you're saying our dance, we shouldn't put that on LinkedIn after we upload it to TikTok?

Guy Bauer: Yeah, you would never put a dance on LinkedIn. We should do it! Come on, we should. I'm going to start doing TikTok, actually, for the agency.

Tory Merritt: I'll need to mentally prepare for that.

Guy Bauer: We can do duets, we can do them virtually. So I'll do a dance, and then you have to mimic my moves.

Tory Merritt: I'll need advanced notice for this.

Guy Bauer: All right, all right. So we're coming up on our last stat, right?

Hope Morley: Yes.

Guy Bauer: All right, so I'm going to change the color now, because we're in the red zone. Now, we're in the red zone.

Hope Morley: So this is our countdown to the last ...

Guy Bauer: This is the two minute warning. All right, what color? Yeah, that's good. Or, should we just go bright red?

Tory Merritt: I like bright, just go for it.

Hope Morley: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Guy Bauer: All right, let's go with the minimal one.

Tory Merritt: Okay.

Guy Bauer:All right, we're in the red zone. Go ahead.

Hope Morley: All right, red zone, final stat. This stat was between January 2020 and February 2020, personal savings rates jumped from about 7% to about 13%. So what we're seeing here is that people are spending, but they are doing less frivolous and maybe more research spending, so they're going to expect to get the most that they can for their money.

Tory Merritt: That jump is crazy, if you look at the trend of month over month for the past few years. The biggest fluctuations, I believe, were between six and seven, for the most part percent, a little bit between five and seven over the past few years. But, to go from seven to, I think we said it was 13? That's huge.

Hope Morley: I mean, it's almost double.

Tory Merritt: Yeah. Yeah, it's crazy. We haven't seen it in the past 10 years.

Guy Bauer: That's the savings rate?

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Tory Merritt: Yes.

Guy Bauer: Oh, okay. Is that good news, though? That means that there's less money in the market.

Tory Merritt: I can always find a way to make this good, Guy. Even if you look back at the Great Recession, I don't think it got as high as the spike that we've just seen. So I think the good news here is crap advertising is not going to work, so if you're not doing crap advertising, this is your moment. If you focus your marketing and advertising on demonstrating how you can deliver value, your ability to take a smaller share of the pie, I think, is much higher.

Tory Merritt: Like Hope said, they might be saving more, but I don't think that stat says saving forever. That's not money that's hey, I'm pocketing that away, and I'm never going to spend it again. It does, I believe, indicate a sense of I'm going to research my purchases, I'm going to be smarter about it. There's not as much ... what’s the word I'm looking for?

Hope Morley: Impulse purchasing.

Tory Merritt: That's the I word. I'm telling you, this week. There's not as much impulse purchasing, it's research purchasing, and then expecting to get a value out of something. Perhaps this also demonstrates higher ticket items may actually be doing better, because people have an expectation that it will last and they're willing to spend to get the value. Like we said, less frivolous, less fast fashion-y type stuff where you're just filling a gap, and just getting rid of it.

Tory Merritt: So yeah, I think this is great for marketers and companies that really deliver value. People are looking for brands and companies and opportunities like you, to spend the money. Even if it's a smaller portion, your chances of capturing it, I think, are higher.

Hope Morley: And relating to, I think it was our third fact, with the business and digital transformations, I think what we're seeing is both in B2B and B2C, people are reevaluating their default decisions that they've been making. So people are looking at their vendors, people are looking at the places that they've been supporting, and they might be reevaluating some of those choices, both looking for value ... Or, even if they're planning to spend the same amount of money, they're looking at what they can get, and what's out there, and they're taking this chance to make those changes.

Hope Morley: So it's a chance that you can get out there, as a marketer, and grab those people who are exploring other options.

Tory Merritt: I think in the business to business sphere, a lot of people have said that the situation is going to benefit people who are lower on cost. But, I would argue if you deliver value, people are actually willing to pay more.

Guy Bauer: Yes.

Tory Merritt: To assure that things are going well, that they're getting what they need out of it, versus lower cost solutions that are just going to have to keep chipping away at extra scopes of work, and that sort of thing. That's something that I think is good for people who are generally the higher cost option, in a world where people are saving more.

Guy Bauer: You just have to really prove the value, that you can't do what everyone else is doing. I won't name any names, we have a client where they have the only product on the market that's not vaporware, right?

Tory Merritt: That works.

Guy Bauer: That works. Our creative solution seems pretty obvious, but it's show the thing, because you're the only one who can. That's pretty bold, and in their world, it's not really normal to show the thing, right?

Hope Morley: The platform.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, to show the platform. In this case, it's the best thing, so you really have to find the unique thing. This goes back to pretty much every podcast we have, and every article I've ever written, is you must be different, but Tory, now more than ever.

Tory Merritt: Now more than ever. Shout out to Mark Lance, in these uncertain times.

Guy Bauer: In these times.

Hope Morley: Wow. So we made it to June without saying in these uncertain times.

Tory Merritt: We didn't say panacea either, yet.

Guy Bauer: Oh! You just did.

Tory Merritt: Oh, look at that! How did that happen?

Guy Bauer: In honor of panacea… 4D6BF7, I know our hexadecimal, I'm changing it to our Umault blue now.

Tory Merritt: Oh.

Hope Morley: Oh, very nice.

Guy Bauer: Once we say panacea, it goes to blue.

Tory Merritt: It goes back.

Hope Morley: It goes to blue.

Tory Merritt: Okay, got it.

Tory Merritt: Yeah, delivering value is necessary all year round, but again, people are being forced because the pie is getting smaller. So if you want to increase your portion of the pie, you're being pushed to do what you should have done anyway, but we all need a little push sometimes.

Guy Bauer: A little push.

Tory Merritt: A little push, a little panacea.

Guy Bauer: Push them. Any John Mulaney fans, "Push him."

Hope Morley: On that note, I hope ...

Tory Merritt: Time to go.

Hope Morley: That anyone listening today, any marketers specifically, feel a little better about the economy, maybe a little good news brought to you with these five facts, and how we broke them down. So I'll link to all these sources and list out all these facts in the show notes, so if you have any questions you can leave us a comment here on YouTube, if you're watching the video. Or, visit us on our website at umault.com, that's U-M-A-U-L-T.com. And if you like the show, please like us, and review in your favorite podcast app, it really helps other people find the show. Thanks for listening.

Tory Merritt: Thank you.

Guy Bauer: Thank you.

Tory Merritt: Until next time.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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