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Consumers Want Advertisements, But Retailers Should Tread Lightly

By Elyse Desmarais on October 22, 2015

Picture of a shopping mall

Today’s consumers are all too aware retailers will use any excuse to bombard them with advertisements. Back to school sales, holiday shopping, and seasonal changes all provide brands and companies reasons to push new promotions and ads. Soon enough, we’ll be seeing Black Friday and holiday promotions, creating feelings of panic to get shopping done sooner rather than later. But do today’s consumers actually want to see these advertisements? What types of ads speak loudest to consumers? Are retailers and e-commerce companies getting it right?

According to a Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience study, an ad’s success is highly dependent on three factors:

  • Attention

  • Conversion to long-term memory, and

  • Emotional engagement

This means today’s advertising professionals and marketers should ensure consumers will listen to, remember and engage with their content. But all audiences are different and retailers can’t use the same advertising tactics for each target market, further complicating the process and making success even harder.

In a Nielsen report on Global Trust Advertising, which surveyed 30,000 online consumers, findings revealed 44% of all global respondents selected ads depicting real-life scenarios as resonating most powerfully. Other favorable message types include:

  • Humor: Does best in Western markets, with 51% of Europeans and 50% of North Americans favoring this style

  • Health-themed: Does best in Latin America at 52%

  • Family-oriented: Does best in Latin America at 47% and Africa/Middle East at 42%

Some of the worst-performing advertising themes in all markets include:

  • Celebrity Endorsements: Does best in Asia and Africa/Middle East, tied at 14%

  • Sexual: Does best in Latin America at 16%

  • Athlete Endorsements: Does best in Africa/Middle East at 10%

Nielsen also finds generational differences contribute to advertising preferences across global markets. Millennials and Gen Z audiences prefer High Energy/Action themed advertisements with each coming in at 28%, while Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation prefer Pets/Animal Centered advertisements at 23% and 24%, respectively. Millennials also show the highest levels of trust in 18 of 19 advertising mediums, which include TV, newspapers and magazines.

Do Consumers Actually Want To Receive These Ads? What About American Consumers In Specific?

Forbes recently released an article based on a study by the B2C marketing company Emarsys, which found 81% of Americans want to receive advertisements from retailers and e-commerce companies. Additionally, 57% of Americans want to hear from these companies regarding sales or promotions and 47% want to be updated on price drops.

Despite craving these advertisements, Americans are quickly irked if a brand overdoes a promotion via email marketing. 81% of Americans also responded they would take action to prevent unwanted emails from retailers and e-commerce companies and 65% would unsubscribe from these communications.

Do Consumers Prefer One Advertising Channel Over Another?

The effectiveness of certain advertising channels is also important to consider. 48% of Americans said TV advertisements are the most effective form of persuasion, with the other top mediums being:

  • 38% Print advertisements

  • 35% Email

  • 22% Social media

Mediums ranking on the lower end of persuasive effectiveness were:

  • 15% Radio

  • 12% Mobile

  • 9% Internet banner ads

The Takeaway

With no surprise to retailers, we’ve learned the majority of consumers are welcoming advertisements. However, not all type of advertisements and not all channels will do. Retailers and e-commerce companies need to ensure they are promoting the right messages, at the right times, to the right audiences complete with a personal and creative feel.

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