ConnectWithCauseway, Consumer Insights, Acquisition Analytics
June 5, 2023
How are Americans feeling about the economy? Causeway Solutions CEO Bill Skelly joins us to reveal consumer survey results. Find out why people are still spending on luxuries despite economic worries. Tune in to hear about the battle between streaming services for consumers' attention. Plus, hear our analysis on the anticipation of FIFA World Cup and its impact on soccer fans! Listen to the full episode:
Thérèse Mulvey, Vice President of Strategy: Welcome to Connect with Causeway. I'm your host, Thérèse Mulvey, vice president of Insights at Causeway Solutions. The topics of focus the economy, entertainment and soccer. In entertainment. We're going to look at the streaming wars and how consumers, media consumption habits have shifted. We'll also talk about the World Cup, which is a bit of an anomaly. Back in 2018, we saw that there were 96 million people who watched it, but when we look at people who call themselves fans, it's around 10 million people. So how does that work? We'll look into that a little bit when we get further into the podcast. Joining me today is Lauren Kornick, our manager of strategic Partnerships. Hey Lauren.
Lauren Kornick, Manager, Strategic Partnerships: Thanks, Thérèse. Happy to be back cause we’re going full steam ahead. We're still doing data. We're looking into more consumer data pieces, including streaming. And as I said yesterday, instead of full steam ahead, we're going full stream ahead. Wakawaka, that's a funnier joke now than it was yesterday.
Thérèse: It's a wonderful joke and I am fascinated by streaming and with America's general obsession with tv. So I'm really interested to see where the conversation goes and what other puns you can come up with. Our returning expert today is Causeway Solution, CEO Bill Skelly. Bill will delve into the data and share his interesting insights as always. Let’s start with what's top of mind right now, and that's the economy. It's really clear people are concerned about the economy. We've seen it in comparison to a few months ago, to last year. Bill, I'm going to turn it over to you. What's your take on what's going on right now?
Bill Skelly, CEO: I'll tell you, it might be top of minds, but it's bottom of hearts for Americans right now. The economy is just really ratcheting up as the most important issue that consumers are facing. Every month we conduct a survey of 1500 U.S. consumers and economy is something that we really start to dig into.
At the beginning of the year, 68% of Americans said that they were dissatisfied with the way the country was headed. Today that number is holding firm at 65%. But what's concerning is, in January we had one out of every three consumers saying that the economy was the most important issue. And today that's 48%.
[In May 2022], 22% of Americans said that they'd give the economy five stars. Today [November 2022] that's only 6%. It's really sobering to see just how hard this is hitting consumers. 71% of Americans have cut down on their expenses, 51% indicate they're carrying balances on their credit card, and 47% have spent down from their savings. It's going to be the main topic of conversation for a couple more months.
Thérèse: Are people cutting back on luxuries? Are they making less purchases?
Bill: People don't seem ready to give up on the luxuries just yet. They're cutting back on some of the smaller expenses. 66% of consumers say they're likely to make a major purchase, you know, 36% plan on purchasing a car, which is no easy feat these days. 15% plan to purchase a house, which again, no easy feat in today's market. And coming out of the pandemic and being trapped at home for so long, 15% are looking at taking some sort of long distance vacation in the next 12 months. These are major expenses that people are trying everything they can do to save up for to keep moving forward.
Lauren: What's interesting is that you can think it's optimism or maybe just kind of pie in the sky thinking, but we've also seen that these people's predictions on what major purchase they're going to make are closer than we would expect. Back in May , 57% said it was likely they would make a large purchase, like a car, a house, in the next six months. And now about five months later, 46% said that they had made that large purchase. Going into the holiday season, we're just about matching up to those predictions, so people aren't having eyes that are bigger than their wallets. It's matching up pretty securely. It's interesting to see consumer confidence that's even higher than last year. It should be interesting to see how it'll match up six months down the line.
Thérèse: Let's turn to entertainment and look at how the economy affects our love of TV. I saw a study following the economic decline in 2008 and it showed that there was a 26% increase in TV viewing. Clearly Americans show us that when things get tough, they stay home, and they watch TV. Comfort TV is continuing today and a reflection of what's going on in the economy, but it's really different because it's all about streaming. This leads me to my next question for you, Bill, and that's the growth of streaming. What are you seeing there?
Bill: For the last decade, the increase in streaming behavior by consumers has been through the roof. But at some point, and that may be happening sooner rather than later, that's going to level off. 78% of consumers have maintained or increased their streaming habits over the course of the last year. However, only 16%, one out of every eight consumers plans on increasing the number of subscriptions. I feel like every day I wake up and there's all sorts of new streaming services or new content, or I have to add another plan to get some video I want. That's beginning to wear thin on consumers. 21% plan on actually decreasing their subscriptions in the next year.
It's going to be hard for some streaming services to fight off the attrition after they fought so hard for addition over all these years. One out of every three subscribers for Hulu said that they were planning on potentially reducing that subscription. Apple TV, Amazon, although Amazon's unique because it comes with Prime, there's some major services that might see some attrition in the coming months because consumers just need to cut back. I cut my cord from cable to go to streaming because I thought it would lower my cable bill. Now with all the subscriptions, I think I pay more today than when I had a cable service.
Lauren: YIt gets complicated because there's certain services that are now a lock. If there are people left who are willing to subscribe, all the services now have to fight over them.
Bill: It's a finite consumer pool and they're fighting that battle right now over content. Content is king, but it's probably not the only key. Life gets in the way of linear television or watching stuff live. But more people are going to be streaming because of life circumstances. They can watch shows they want to watch when they want to watch them.
Lauren: We have live TV options, sports games, streaming. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” isn't broadcasting this year. The only way to watch [the classic Thanksgiving Peanuts animation] is on a streaming service. The only things that remain on live TV is news and sports. But even sports is transitioning as well.
Bill: I've signed up for two new streaming services to watch Italian soccer and who knows what else. It feels like anytime you want to watch something now, you've got to find the streaming service and subscribe to it. It's incredible.
Thérèse: It's definitely confusing. But speaking of major sporting events, turning to streaming, let's move to our next topic, which is the World Cup. Around the globe soccer is a must watch. But here in the US it's still not a dominant sport. As we mentioned earlier, Americans show up for the World Cup, but then where is it that they go after that?
Bill: The World Cup is a worldwide phenomenon. Billions of people tune into the World Cup. In the U.S., it's going to be one out of every three U.S. consumers plan on watching some or all of the World Cup. And probably for a lot of different reasons. But that number drops off eightfold, an eight time decrease in viewership for soccer from the World Cup when we head into the MLS season. I think we have a unique opportunity with the U.S. hosting and North America hosting the next World Cup to grab attention for a longer period of time. But what advertisers and what I hope FIFA and Major League U.S. Soccer begin to realize is that there's a diverse audience that's really paying attention.
It's not an exclusively male audience. 37% of people that are going to watch the World Cup are female. It skews younger. You’re going to reach 18 to 35 year old consumers. It's more educated. 38% have some sort of post-grad degree. It’s married consumers with children. It's a diverse group that you'll be able to reach, for advertising or for messaging through the World Cup. It'll be interesting to see if Major League Soccer can find a way to retain some of those fans because it really is a once in a lifetime phenomenon.
Lauren: It’s interesting because only about half who watched the World Cup plan on watching soccer afterwards. So it's trying to figure out what to market to them to switch over to just regular soccer. And with that half, half of the people who are watching the World Cup aren't watching it for a specific player or a specific country. They're just watching it. Either because it’s an exciting game that's a once in a lifetime every four years, or it's just a tradition, it's something that they've done. It's like the Super Bowl. Even if you don't follow football, people watch the Super Bowl every year. Major League Soccer is in a good spot because those people who are watching it for more of those life reasons are actually willing or even at least have a favorable view of soccer. I think about 73% actually have a favorable view of soccer, even though they don't follow it. All they do is watch the World Cup. It seems like we're still seeing that escapism factor even with soccer.
Bill: It all ties together. People are concerned about the economy. They want something to get their minds off of it. They're getting tired of subscribing to new services and along comes an event that's going to distract them, that they can watch on normal television.
Lauren: It's not just the content or the product. It's about the circumstances around it or the person. And that's what makes our job so interesting. There's a psychological factor in examining life.
Bill: Yeah, data analytics and sociology.
Thérèse: It's a fascinating story. It's not always what you expect, which is why it's so important not to make assumptions and really check the numbers. Who is watching soccer or how they feel about it. The information on streaming services and where they're going. And how people are feeling about the economy is not always exactly what you'd think in terms of what they're planning to do with their money. That’s why this information is so fascinating and why we love our jobs. Thanks for dissecting the stats for us. Lauren and Bill, thanks for your perspective. It was really interesting for me. And most importantly, we want to thank all of you for joining us.
We hope you enjoyed this episode of Connect with Causeway and we want to remind you that if you have questions you'd like to suggest for our monthly survey, please reach out to us at [email protected]. And please subscribe to the podcast and tune in again for our next episode. Thanks everybody!
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