Consumer Survey – What Motivates People to Buy

In the height of the pandemic, MACIAS PR, published a consumer survey that looked at the waning influence of commercials and online ads. It’s valuable insight that is still relevant today, especially as consumer spending slows during this economic downturn.

The online survey was conducted July 15-16th, 2020 and involved more than 2,000 Americans who answered questions detailing the best approach to get them to buy new products.

The survey found a staggering 70 percent of participants said TV commercials no longer influence them to buy products. In contrast, roughly 45 percent said positive online consumer reviews and positive stories on the news influence them the most when it comes to buying a new product or service.

The CEO of MACIAS PR, Mark Macias, said his agency conducted the survey to gain better insight on where consumers are paying attention.

“Exposure for the pure sake of exposure no longer equates to sales,” said Macias. “This survey reinforces that most Americans tune out or walk out of the room when commercials come on TV. When it comes to maximum engagement, our survey suggests news content is where consumers are most engaged.”

A Closer Look at the Consumer Survey and Attitudes Toward Advertising

Roughly 67 percent of the survey participants said they are consuming more news, or about the same amount of news since the Coronavirus pandemic unfolded. 16 percent admitted they don’t watch any news.

And when commercials come on TV, 36 percent of Americans surveyed said they grab their cell phone or laptop and multi-task during commercials. Another 17 percent said they fast-forward through the commercial, while 10 percent say they walk out of the room to finish a task. 10 percent say they watch the commercial.

Roughly 42 percent of all survey participants said online news is their primary source for information. Another 19 percent of consumers turn to local news first, while 9 percent get it from cable news.

The survey found newspapers continued their decline with consumers. Only 4.5 percent said the local newspaper is their first choice for news. Radio or podcasts rounded out the bottom with only 3 percent of participants saying they get their daily news from this broadcast medium.

Macias said this consumer survey reinforces the marketing trend that content marketing and PR are becoming more influential in this cluttered media market.

“Millennials, Generation Z, Generation X, Baby Boomers – it’s a fragmented consumer market and each group requires a customized approach,” said Macias. “If you’re trying to introduce new customers to your product or service, strategy and approach will make the difference between success and failure. All consumers are oblivious to advertisements, but at least for now – news stories and online features still move the needle when it comes to influencing behavior.”


MACIAS PR is a boutique public relations agency located in New York City. The PR firm focuses on tech, consumer and healthcare industries. The founder of the firm, Mark Macias, is a frequent Forbes and CNBC contributor, providing analysis on brands and media strategy.