Blurring of line between work and home creates a new consumer persona

Marketers are uncertain about the best way to connect with "workday consumers."

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Working from home has blurred the line between work and personal time, creating a new buyer persona, according to a new Microsoft report. They’re calling it the “workday consumer” and marketers say they’re still figuring out how to connect with them.

What behaviors have changed: 

  • 60% of consumers mix their work and personal to-do lists.
  • 59% consider work and personal tasks to be of equal importance during their work time. 
  • 63% spend more time on their work PC than pre-pandemic.
  • 56% use work tools (e.g., laptops and video conferencing software) for personal purposes.
  • 48% prefer not to switch devices when doing personal tasks during work time. 
  • 45% spend more time on personal tasks during work than previously.
  • 39% spend an hour or more on personal tasks during the work time.

The result. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers say they regularly research or purchase products and services during work time. More than half (51%) are making more online purchases during this time since the start of the pandemic. Perhaps because they are in work mode, those purchases tend to be in high-consideration types like travel, finance, and home improvement tools and appliances.


Marketers’ response. Because marketing depends on demographics, past behavior and purchasing histories, it is a challenge to respond to a new buyer persona. Of the 1,301 marketers surveyed, 67% said they weren’t confident about their organizations’ ability to develop in-depth target customer personas. Additionally, 57% felt the same about knowing what digital advertising tactics would connect with these personas.

“Many brand respondents said their company is unable to get what it needs from customer data to fuel online advertising strategies that are informed by insights,” the report says. “Brand respondents said driving decision-making with customer insights was the top challenge with online advertising. Many said their brand struggles to even gain any actionable insights from its customer data, such as what channels focus online ad spend to make the greatest impact with key personas.”

Why we care. “Go where your consumers are,” is a simple statement and a very complex challenge. In the “before times” marketing focused on connecting with customers everywhere but work. That all changes when work is potentially everywhere and anytime. It will take time to understand this. However, companies are already taking action. As the survey notes, while 58% of their company’s paid media budgets went to digital channels pre pandemic, that is expected to rise to 70% during the next 12 months.

Dig deeper: How to enable greater personalization in a world of impersonal experiences

About the author

Constantine von Hoffman
Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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