Digital Audio Gains Larger Share of U.S. Digital Media Time, Research Firm Says

By Staff
Friday, June 24, 2022 3:52 PM NEW YORK—Digital audio has been taking up more than an hour per day of U.S. adults’ time since 2016, and 2022 will be another year of solid growth. U.S. adults will consume an additional 3 minutes per day of digital audio this year, to reach 1 hour and 40 minutes. Among active digital audio listeners, the daily figure will be a robust 2 hours and 17 minutes.

Indeed, digital audio will account for 12.7 percent of overall media time among U.S. adults. Within digital media time, audio’s share will be 20.3 percent—a high figure compared with many alternative digital options, according to the eMarketer analysis.

Adults will spend more time each day listening to digital audio (1:40) than they will watching sub OTT services (1:27), using social networks (1:15), using tablets (1:09), or watching videos on their smartphones (0:40), according to the eMarketer report. 

Listening to digital audio is also more popular than listening to the radio, although radio retains a significant share of audio time spent. This year, nearly 55 percent of total audio time will be spent on digital platforms (1:40), while the remaining 45 percent (1:23) will be spent with traditional radio. Digital first exceeded radio in 2020 and has only grown its share since. 

Radio will still account for 10.5 percent of all media time among U.S. adults in 2022—"not a small figure,” according to eMarketer.

Economists Predict Drop in GDP as Stagflation Takes Hold, Job Rate to Remain Steady

By Staff
Thursday, June 23, 2022 4:47 PM Economists believe stagflation is here to stay and will drive employment and GDP numbers down as the U.S. economy continues to shrink, according to a report presented at the SIFMA Economic Advisory Roundtable, which brings together chief U.S. economists of 27 global and regional financial institutions. 

Their predictions are in line with a recent Bank of America global fund manager survey in which the fears of stagflation are at their highest levels since June of 2008. This has triggered the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and is sending warning signs of an even greater unemployment issue with figures expected to rise to 3.6 percent

Analysts are predicting this downward trend for employment numbers with rates expected to reach 3.8 percent by 2023.

Forecasters predict the next decade will see a period of economic stagnation. Between 2022 and 2031, the forecasters predict headline consumer price index (CPI) inflation will average 2.80 percent at an annual rate. The corresponding estimate for 10-year annual-average personal consumption expenditure (PCE) inflation is 2.40 percent, higher than original estimates.

Money, Not COVID, Is the Biggest Travel Hurdle This Summer

By Staff
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 2:39 PM After two years of COVID-related restrictions and inhibitions, travelers are ready to hit the beaches in masses this summer—that is if they can still afford it. With everyday purchases like food, gas and utilities having become much more expensive over the past few months, many families are forced to reconsider their holiday plans, if not to scrap them altogether, according to a recent feature from Statista.com

According to an international survey conducted by Ipsos for Europ Assistance’s 2022 Holiday Barometer, money is by far the biggest hurdle for potential holiday goers this summer. About 45 percent of Americans who have no summer travel plans this year said that they couldn’t afford it, while 33 percent said they’ll refrain from traveling to save money. Meanwhile just 15 percent of U.S. non-travelers said that COVID-19 was the reason for them staying at home this summer.

The trend is similar across Europe where travel enthusiasm is generally higher this year. Just 29 percent of European respondents have no travel plans for the summer, with 41 percent of them not being able to afford it and 26 percent trying to save money.

New Survey Reveals Younger Americans’ Attitudes About Weekends

By Staff
Tuesday, June 21, 2022 12:21 PM For many Americans, Friday, June 3, marked the first of a series of "Summer Fridays"—hours-adjusted workdays designed to encourage work-life balance in a season known for warmer weather, physically active lifestyles, social events and travel. A recent survey of full-time employed Americans ages 18-42 sponsored by Optimum Nutrition, maker of AMIN.O. Energy Sparkling drink, found that 86 percent of respondents take advantage of Summer Fridays, even if they have a lot of work on their plate.

Retail Sales Slow as Inflations Fears Rise

By Staff
Monday, June 20, 2022 2:09 PM The National Retail Federation (NRF) is reporting a significant slowdown in retail sales this past May due to growing inflation fears. According to the US Census Bureau, sales in May were down by 0.3 percent from April, but remained up 8.1 percent year over year. A recent review of figures by the NRF, however, found that May sales were unchanged seasonally, but rose slightly by 6.7 percent year over year, while April sales were up 5.5 percent year over year. 

The NRF found May sales to be higher in eight out of nine categories, with building materials, stores, online sales and groceries seeing the most sales.  

“There’s been little relief from inflation, and we expected some cooling off in sales in reaction to prices, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “There have been swings across sectors that reflect the impact of both higher prices and supply chain disturbances, and higher interest rates are expected to curb spending going forward. As inflation continues, consumers are looking for ways to stretch their dollars by saving less, tapping into savings accumulated during the pandemic and increasing their use of credit.”

Mastercard SpendingPulse Forecasts 7.5 Percent Growth for U.S. Back-to-School Retail Sales

By Staff
Friday, June 17, 2022 2:05 PM PURCHASE, N.Y.—While inflation is impacting retail sectors and households in a myriad of ways, continued consumer demand contributed to double-digit growth across nearly all retail sectors in May. This is according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, not adjusted for inflation. 

Looking ahead to the critical mid-July through Labor Day back-to-school period, U.S. retail sales are expected to grow 7.5 percent, excluding automotive, compared with 2021. Sales are anticipated to be up 18.3 percent compared with pre-pandemic 2019, with Department Stores expected to be a noteworthy winner as the sector continues its recent rebound.

“Back-to-school is the second-biggest season for retailers and is often looked at as an early indicator of retail momentum ahead of the traditional holiday season,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Inc. “While Mastercard SpendingPulse anticipates growth across sectors, retailers will need to find innovative ways to entice shoppers as discretionary spending potentially stretches thin as a result of increasing prices.”

This back-to-school season will be defined by the resilience and flexibility of the consumer. 

The forecast projects that department stores will continue their rebound following a multi-year decline. Department stores have made their way into the spotlight after 15 consecutive months of sustained growth.

The Vision Council Releases Focused inSights 2022: Consumer Choices

By Staff
Friday, June 17, 2022 12:24 AM ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Vision Council has released the Focused inSights 2022: Consumer Choices report. The report is the first of the Focused inSights reports—in-depth special interest reports on rotating topics—to be released as part of The Vision Council’s new inSights Research Program.

Inflation and Supply Shortages Shift Back-to-School Buying Habits

By Staff
Thursday, June 16, 2022 2:42 PM Inflation and supply chain issues are already impacting back to school shopping. A survey by CivicScience found that parents are worried about being able to fill backpacks thanks to ongoing supply chain issues, up 9 percentage points between April and May. The survey found that two-thirds of parents are very concerned about how inflation will impact school shopping. 

Shoppers are also filling their carts with more supplies than ever with 41 percent saying they plan to spend more this year, an increase of 17 percent over 2021. 

This is in contrast to a similar survey done by Inmar Intelligence that found 65 percent of shoppers plan on changing their shopping patterns this year. Sixty-six percent of participants said they would be putting more effort into finding promotions to ease the pain of inflation.

Shoppers are relying on a number of saving methods to help ease the pain of higher prices this year. The survey found that 35 percent of shoppers will be using flyers, coupons and e-mail alerts to find bargains, while 30 percent plan on using social media, influencers and their friends to find the best deals.

Americans Suffer Pay Cut as Inflation Outpaces Wage Growth

By Staff
Wednesday, June 15, 2022 1:47 PM Despite the Fed’s most aggressive interest rate hike since 2000, consumer prices continued to surge in May, adding to fears that inflation may be out of control. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 8.6 percent over the last 12 months before seasonal adjustment, the highest reading since December 1981. 

Low interest rates, COVID-related supply constraints and strong consumer spending partly fueled by generous stimulus checks had already put upward pressure on prices before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war’s severe impact on fuel and food prices has further fanned the flames, turning an inflation scare into a global crisis, according to a recent feature from Statista.com.  

As the chart from Statista.com shows, inflation has now been outpacing nominal wage growth for 14 months straight, meaning that Americans can afford less than they could a year ago, despite wages rising on paper. While average hourly earnings climbed 5.2 percent from $30.36 to $31.95 over the past 12 months, consumer prices soared 8.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, resulting in a 3 percent decline in real hourly earnings.

Double Digit Growth for Robot Sales in North America

By Staff
Tuesday, June 14, 2022 12:41 PM The North American robotics market experienced its best quarter ever to begin the year, according to newly released data from the International Federation of Robotics. Companies from the U.S., Canada and Mexico ordered 11,595 industrial robots—up 28 percent compared to the first quarter of 2021. Revenue rose by 43 percent and reached a value of $664 million. These results are in line with a positive trend worldwide.

Consumer Interest in Vision Benefits Is Rising, Led by Virtual Eyecare Options, Versant Study Finds

By Staff
Tuesday, June 14, 2022 12:27 AM BALTIMORE—Consumer opinions of the value of vision care as part of whole-body health are rising, according to the results of Versant Health’s newly released third annual Vision Wellness Study. The study also found that more people agree that the ability to identify both eye diseases and chronic health conditions are highly valuable services offered by eye doctors. Additionally, Versant found that the use of virtual eyecare options—including telemedicine, tech-enabled communication, and online eyewear shopping—have both increased year-over year and influence consumer's insurance benefits decisions.

Stagflation Is on the Rise Amid a Global Economic Slowdown

By Staff
Monday, June 13, 2022 1:41 PM WASHINGTON—The World Bank is warning of the impact of stagflation in its latest Global Economic Prospects Report, which noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has compounded the effects of the global economic slowdown. As a result, the risk of stagflation has increased particularly among middle to low income economies. 

The report noted that growth in advanced economies is projected to fall from 5.1 percent in 2021 to 2.6 percent in 2022. Growth is expected to further moderate to 2.2 percent in 2023, largely due to the end of fiscal and monetary policy support provided during the pandemic.

The report said current economic trends mirror those of the 1970s, particularly in the areas of persistent supply-side disturbances fueling inflation, preceded by a protracted period of highly accommodative monetary policy in major advanced economies, prospects for weakening growth, and vulnerabilities in emerging markets and developing economies. 

One key difference between the 1970s and today is the strong dollar and the smaller increase in commodity prices. It noted that financial institutions are also in a strong position and there has been a stronger focus on price stability over the past 30 years.

Updated Advertising Forecast Predicts Online Video Will Be ‘Fastest-Growing Channel Over the Next Three Years’

By Staff
Friday, June 10, 2022 2:08 PM NEW YORK—Earlier this month, the media agency Zenith (a unit of advertising giant Publicis Media) issued a mid-year update for the advertising business, which indicated a revised downward 2022 global outlook but a boost in its 2024 projection. Characterizing it as a “minor downgrade,” Zenith reduced its 2022 worldwide ad spending forecast down 1.1 percentage points to 8.0 percent from the 9.1 percent growth it had forecasted in December 2021.

Zenith's 2023 global ad growth estimate was revised down 0.3 points to 5.4 percent, and its 2024 projection was revised up 0.2 points to 7.6 percent. Nonetheless, the advertising market in North America remains on track with previous projections, Zenith said.

Zenith’s forecasts for North America, MENA and Western Europe this year are unchanged at 12 percent, 7 percent and 6 percent growth, respectively, Zenith said in its revised forecast

“The sustained growth in demand from advertisers is pushing up media inflation, particularly in television, where the supply of audiences is falling steadily as viewers switch to alternatives,” Zenith said. “Price rises vary widely for different audiences in different countries, but the global average cost of television advertising across all audiences is expected to rise by 11 percent to 13 percent this year. Online video prices are expected to increase by about 7 percent, although in this case the supply of audiences is rising.”

The agency also noted that online video is now predicted to be the fastest-growing channel over the next three years: Zenith forecasts it will grow 15.4 percent a year on average between 2021 and 2024, driven by the rapid development of connected TV, ad-funded video-on-demand, streaming and other video formats.

Employees Are Split on a Return to Work Model

By Staff
Wednesday, June 8, 2022 11:42 AM The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a new era of doing business. As workplaces tried to avoid spreading the virus, employees were sent home to work remotely. The success of this new work model brought with it an improvement in work-life balance, something employees are reluctant to give up despite business returning to normal. 

According to a recent survey from CNBC, 65 percent of workers have returned to the in-office model while 14 percent are working mostly in person. Another 9 percent are working mostly remotely, while 11 percent are working entirely remotely. 

Despite being allowed to work fully remotely, some workers are not finding the job satisfaction they expected with 68 percent of in-person workers finding satisfaction in their job, while only 60 percent of remote and most workers found satisfaction in their job. 

Working from home has also appeared to change the mindset of employees who are putting their autonomy and self-happiness ahead of their employers. According to the survey, only 14 percent of workers said, “having control over how you do your job” was the most important factor in happiness at work, while 27 percent of those who worked from home felt this was a deciding factor in workplace happiness. 

Approximately 52 percent of in-person workers feel they have better career opportunities than those who work from home. Overall, the survey found that workers do better when given the chance to decide what works best for them, whether it be work-life balance or climbing the corporate ladder, and that employers who address these concerns benefit in the long run.

Gartner Survey Reveals Marketing Budgets Have Increased to 9.5 Percent of Overall Company Revenue in 2022

By Staff
Tuesday, June 7, 2022 12:19 PM Marketing budgets have climbed to 9.5 percent of total company revenue in 2022, an increase from 6.4 percent in 2021, according to a new survey by Gartner, Inc. While marketing budgets are increasing this year, they still lag pre-pandemic spending levels.

The annual Gartner 2022 CMO Spend and Strategy Survey was conducted between February through March 2022 among 405 CMOs and other marketing leaders in North America as well as Northern and Western Europe.