Microsoft Study Finds 'Workday Consumers' Drive Shift In Media Budgets

Consumers are back on their PCs, according to data released Thursday from Microsoft. The findings from the survey fielded by Forrester Consulting show that brands and retailers will shift media budgets more toward search, display, and online video during the next 12 months.

The data found that for many people working from home, their work lives and personal lives are intertwined. This trend began to accelerate during the COVID-19 pandemic and created a new type of buyer or persona that Microsoft calls “the workday consumer.”

The data shows that 60% of consumers participating in the survey have a mix of work and personal tasks in their to-do lists during the workday. About 62% of respondents in the consumer study said they regularly research or purchase products and services during their work time.

Some 59% consider work and personal tasks to be of equal importance -- perhaps because 63% spend more time on their PCs.

Brands have yet to change targeting strategies to meet the challenge. With the increased focus on meeting consumer expectations, brands also must rethink their online targeting strategies to attract, convert, and retain the workday consumer.

Another important data point is that 44% of respondents expect the number of online purchases they make during their work time will increase in the next 12 months.

There are six top tasks that consumers perform during work time. Fifty percent said they always or often trade stocks, funds, or other investments, while 50% research products and services they are considering for purchase; 45% browse social media; 45% conduct financial business including bill payment; 44% read or watch the news; and 37% purchase products or services.

To reach consumers, 60% of brands plan to increase their budgets for search advertising, while 88% plan to advertise on three or more search engines. About 60% will increase budgets for online display, and 77% plan to engage with three or more demand-side platforms.

The top 10 categories researched during work time, based on 5,3239 employed consumers, include travel, tools, electronics, media and entertainment; clothing and footwear, sporting goods; financial product and services; household appliances, and cars.

The top 10 categories purchased during work time based on those 5,3239 employed consumers include media and entertainment;  financial products and services; hospitality, health and personal care; electronics; travel; tools; sporting goods; household appliances; and luxury goods.

There are many strategic and data-related challenges with online advertising. The top data challenges include balancing data privacy requirements and expectations with the right level of personalization, 45%; creating one view of the customer with other marketing channels, 43%; future-proofing the use of data and insights to account for changes such as privacy regulation and removal of third-party cookies, 41%; lack of access to real-time data, 41%; and personalizing experiences across channels, 40%.

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