Unlocking the Baltimore Consumer Mindset with WBA Research

Let us take a guess — you got between six and seven hours of sleep last night. You commuted to work by car, and it took you about 50 minutes roundtrip. Maybe you hit the gym early this morning; you try to exercise about three days per week. You’re proud of your Baltimore community, and you show it by supporting local businesses when you can.

Were we close? Sure, we may not have been spot on, but according to WBA Research’s 2016 MarketTrak® study on the psychographic trends of Baltimore consumers, we were probably close.

On Dec. 8, 2016, several members of the Ainsley & Co. team attended AMA in the AM, an event organized by Baltimore’s chapter of the American Marketing Association. Steve Markenson, President of WBA research, presented his firm’s findings to the group of marketers.

While some of the findings are more surprising than others, the results as a whole were quite interesting. Here are a few of what we found to be the most interesting statistics:

  • In 2011, only 40 percent of Baltimore consumers had a smart phone. In 2016, that number rose to 79 percent.
  • Tablet usage has grown from eight percent in 2011 to 55 percent in 2016.
  • For customer service, 69 percent of consumers would still rather talk to a real person than automated systems or online chat, even if it means a wait time.
  • The number of people who always purchase brand name products is down to 17 percent (from 29 percent in 2006).
  • As a whole, we are more concerned about crime/violence and public education than we were in 2006, but less concerned about the job market and fuel prices.
  • Today, only 67 percent believe owning a home is part of the American dream (down from 87 percent in 2006).

So what does this mean for us? As marketers, some of these statistics will affect our strategic planning more than others. When it comes to advertising, the study found large generational differences in how people watch television, with an overall uptrend for streaming TV online. For clients with larger ad spends on cable or network TV, this may mean looking to new platforms for ad placements — especially when targeting the millennial generation.

On the social media side, Facebook is still dominant among all generations, but may be especially useful when targeting the baby boomer generation. Alternatively, Instagram and Snapchat are great platforms for reaching younger users.

The survey’s findings regarding technology ownership also align with trends we’ve seen in web design and development over the past 5-10 years. As smart phone and tablet ownership have increased, we’ll want to continue to push our clients toward responsive web designs that create a streamlined user experience for all devices and screen resolutions.

Overall, studies like this one show us how important it is to keep your finger on your market’s pulse. When you understand the high-level trends, especially those that reveal differences between generations, it will be easier for you to understand the mindsets of your customers and clients.