iHeartMedia and Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries Reveal Growing Consumer-Marketer Disconnect in Landmark Report

Marketers sometimes chase trends that consumers don’t care about: 50% of consumers have never heard of ‘Aperol Spritz’ compared to only 3% of marketers who haven’t

For consumers, the hardest two habits to give up are snacks between meals and their favorite podcast, while for marketers it’s snacks and online shopping

Giving up social media like Instagram is twice as hard for marketers as it is for consumers; for consumers, it’s twice as hard to give up their favorite podcasts

Report released to marketers at iHeartMedia’s AudioCon 23

NEW YORK - September 13, 2023 - iHeartMedia, the No. 1 audio company in the United States which reaches nine out of 10 Americans every month, and author and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries, today released the results of a major study conducted by Morning Consult and Advertiser Perceptions, that explores the growing disparity between consumer values and behaviors and marketing priorities in the U.S. The report underscores the increasing urgency for marketers to reset and realign their marketing and media plans with American consumers to ensure the success of campaigns in an increasingly polarized post-COVID economy.

This research is a reminder of how different we marketers are from today’s consumers, especially post-pandemic. Based on these results, we need to challenge ourselves as we build marketing and media plans to be sure we use real consumer data and not just trust our instincts and personal experiences. These personal biases are too detached from the consumers most marketers are trying to engage, and which are often behind major marketing misfires,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc. “This study aims to level-set the conversation to benefit both our audiences and advertisers.”

“This report illustrates a cultural chasm between what consumers hold dear and the compass by which marketers navigate. It's high time that marketers acknowledge that chasing the new and shiny isn't always the path to hearts and minds,” said Gladwell. “There’s nothing more critical to understanding what people want than looking beyond your personal perspective.”

Key findings from the report included:

  • Marketers sometimes chase trends Consumers don’t care about: Is a bias toward shiny new things a problem? The research showed that marketers often chase the ‘shiny and new’ at the expense of reflecting the values and priorities of real consumers. For example:
    • While 40% of Consumers report that they’ve never heard of NFTs, that number drops to 0% for Marketers.
    • For Lifestyle items the gap widens, as 50% of all Consumers responded that they’ve never heard of an Aperol Spritz, and only 3% of Marketers reported unfamiliarity.
    • 33% of Consumers have never heard of ‘charcuterie,’ while ALL Marketers are familiar with it.
    • 62% of Consumers have never heard of the TV show “Succession,” while less than 5% of Marketers have never heard of “Succession.”
    • Almost 1/3 of Consumers have never heard of pickleball, while ALL Marketers have heard of pickleball.
  • Snacking and Podcasting: The two things American Consumers won’t give up: Podcasting and snacking tied for No. 1 for Consumers’ hardest habits to give up – while the hardest thing for Marketers to give up was online shopping.
  • Twice as hard to give up -- Favorite Podcasts vs. Social Media: Giving up social media like Instagram is twice as hard for Marketers as it is for Consumers; for Consumers, it’s twice as hard to give up their favorite podcasts.
  • “Cool” vs. “Cringe” looks different on Main Street vs. Madison Avenue, with ‘traditional American’ activities reported as “Cool” for Consumers: The Top 2 activities that scored the highest as “Cool” for Consumers were traveling around the U.S. and BBQs, while travel to Europe and going to the gym were ranked Top 2 for “Cool” for Marketers. And among the top choices for “Cringe” for Consumers were NFTs and being vegan or vegetarian, while the top choices for “Cringe” for Marketers were making a recipe using cottage cheese and watching NCIS, both of which consumers put in the “Cool” category. Additionally, 1/3 of both of Marketers and Consumers think radio is “Cool.”
  • Electric Vehicles: Marketers are 4 times more likely than Consumers to drive an EV.
  • Consumers are motivated by friends and family, Marketers are motivated by fortune, fame and fear: When it comes to motivation, Consumers’ top two motivators are family and friends. Consumers are motivated by family more than twice as much as Marketers are, and by friends almost twice as much as Marketers, whereas Marketers are motivated by fortune more than twice as much as Consumers, and by fame almost three times as much. Additionally, Marketers are three times as motivated by fear as Consumers.
  • Attitudinal differences:
    • 80% of Marketers say my career is a major part of my identity while only 42% of Consumers said the same.
    • 66% of Marketers are excited about the potential AI will unlock for society, while only 39% of Consumers are; however, 63% of Consumers and 68% of Marketers are scared of the threats AI poses to jobs in the future.
    • 77% of Marketers are optimistic about their financials; only 54% of Consumers are.
  • Despite prioritizing similar values including family, health and safety, Marketers miss key consumer concerns: Consumers value religion, the military and freedom of speech to a much greater extent than Marketers do.
  • Both Consumers and Marketers want to hear from real people, not influencers: Both Consumers and Marketers say that they hear from too many influencers – and not enough real people – in marketing.
  • And different spending priorities means missed marketing opportunities: When given a hypothetical $1,000 to spend, Marketers reported they would spend the money on travel, whereas Consumers would rather spend that money paying off existing bills and debt.
  • The Biggest Thing Consumers and Marketers Agree On: Both Consumers and Marketers agreed that if they had an extra hour, they’d use it for sleep.

The findings were presented by Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia’s Digital Audio Group, and author and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell at iHeartMedia’s AudioCon 2023 today, September 13 at 4 p.m. ET in New York City at iHeartMedia’s HQ.

Methodology: ​​

The Consumer responses were collected via a poll by Morning Consult between August 8-10, 2023, among a sample of 2,206 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

The Marketer responses were collected via a poll by Advertiser Perceptions between August 14-21, 2023 among a sample of 200 Marketer and Agency contacts from The Advertiser Perceptions Ad Pros Community and trusted third-party partners as needed. Our Ad Pros Community represents the brands that are spending the most on advertising and marketing in the U.S. We continuously update, supplement and refine the community based on movement in the market. The interviews were conducted online.

About Pushkin Industries

Pushkin Industries is the audio production company co-founded by Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg that is home to chart-topping podcasts such: Against the Rules, hosted by bestselling author and journalist Michael Lewis; Cautionary Tales from Financial Times columnist Tim Harford; and The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos. Pushkin is also home to Gladwell’s Revisionist History and, launching in October, McCartney: A Life in Lyrics hosted by Paul McCartney and Paul Muldoon, which is a co-production with iHeartMedia and MPL. Pushkin publishes and sells audiobooks including So Many Steves by Steve Martin and Adam Gopnik and The Deadline by Jill Lepore. Learn more at pushkin.fm or follow us on X @pushkinpods.

About iHeartMedia, Inc.

iHeartMedia (NASDAQ: IHRT) is the number one audio company in the United States, reaching nine out of 10 Americans every month. It consists of three business groups.

With its quarter of a billion monthly listeners, the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group has a greater reach than any other media company in the U.S. Its leadership position in audio extends across multiple platforms, including more than 860 live broadcast stations in over 160 markets nationwide; its National Sales organization; and the company’s live and virtual events business. It also includes Premiere Networks, the industry’s largest Networks business, with its Total Traffic and Weather Network (TTWN); and BIN: Black Information Network, the first and only 24/7 national and local all news audio service for the Black community. iHeartMedia also leads the audio industry in analytics, targeting and attribution for its marketing partners with its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products using data from its massive consumer base.

The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the company’s fast-growing podcasting business -- iHeartMedia is the number one podcast publisher in downloads, unique listeners, revenue and earnings -- as well as its industry-leading iHeartRadio digital service, available across more than 500 platforms and 2,000 devices; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; its digital advertising technology companies; and its audio industry-leading social media footprint.

The company’s Audio & Media Services reportable segment includes Katz Media Group, the nation’s largest media representation company, and RCS, the world's leading provider of broadcast and webcast software.

Visit iHeartMedia.com for more company information.