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The New Math of Media Disruption

Posted by Lynne Castronuovo

Tue, Mar 13, 2018

 

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During February’s Winter Olympics, NBC tried to measure exactly how many people tuned in to watch the games. This sounds like standard practice—and it is—but this time NBC strayed from the traditional Nielsen system by combining broadcast and cable channel viewership with streaming platform audiences to produce a single number—attempting to account for multichannel consumption

NBC isn’t the only one struggling to get a valid headcount. As I was reminded at last month’s Media Insights and Engagement Conference: no one in the media industry seems to be able to measure the crowd anymore.

The media and entertainment industry has been upended. Viewers are spread far and wide across devices, platforms, and time—no longer huddled around a single television set to watch primetime. We’ve said goodbye to the days of the standard 18-49 year old viewer group.

Further, the explosion of high quality, award-winning content from nontraditional producers like Hulu has fragmented audiences with niche tastes and demographics. There’s programming for nearly every interest.

Conversely, the meteoric rise of programs like Stranger Things underscores the emergence of programs that are beloved by a blend of demographics—from parents to young teens—making it increasingly challenging for advertisers to know what will resonate with such diverse audiences.

From splintering audiences to multichannel consumption, the disruption within the media industry is coming from all sides. It’s become harder for broadcasters to know who and how their content is being consumed and for advertisers to measure the ROI of ad spend. Data is coming in from a variety of sometimes incongruent sources, so it can be challenging to get the full picture.

The media industry needs researchers now more than ever to help uncover who, how, and why content is being consumed. Understanding the who, how, and why is critical for creating content and advertising that will resonate most with viewers and ensure advertisers are targeting  and reaching the right audience.

The changing media and entertainment landscape is daunting, but this is a tremendous opportunity for market researchers to innovate and rise to meet these new challenges. We can’t rely solely on traditional audience tracking methods—we need to dig deeper into the consumer psyche understand how media is being consumed.

The most successful researchers will be those who can balance the art and science of collecting insights—those who can parse vast amounts of data and stitch together a holistic story. I welcome these new challenges within the media and entertainment industry and encourage other researchers to help our clients face them head on.

 

Topics: digital media and entertainment research

CMB + ABC @ TMRE 2017: Attracting Viewers (& Customers) in the Golden Age of Content

Posted by Megan McManaman

Mon, Oct 23, 2017

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We're less than 24 hours into TMRE 2017 and it has been a whirlwind of sessions and great conversations with researchers and marketers from all over the world. If you're not one of the 1000+ people who've converged on Orlando for one of the biggest market research events in the U.S., don't worry—we won't let you miss out. 

This afternoon, CMB's own Judy Melanson and ABC's Lyndsey Albertson presented an in-depth look at how ABC is building a deep understanding of what drives content discovery and what keeps viewers watching! You don't have to be ABC Disney to know how critical it is to gain traction for new products while navigating a market in flux.  As you navigate your customer journeys, amid seismic shifts, are you asking and answering these 7 critical questions?

  1. What does “new” mean to your consumers; what content, products, and materials can you re-merchandise?
  2. Do you understand how your industry’s disruptors are meeting customer needs?
  3. Are you regularly evaluating your schedules to ensure offerings break through and remain relevant?
  4. How well is your brand’s story connecting with your customers’ emotions?
  5. Are you fully leveraging the power of social to engage?
  6. How are your distribution points ensuring relevance and stickiness?
  7. Have you adapted your product availability to better fit with consumer needs (that may be changing due to competitor offerings)?

Learn more about how we're helping leading brands ask, answer and act on the questions that matter, drop us a note or give us a call:

Contact us!

At TMRE now? Stop by Booth 409 to chat! 

 

Topics: conference recap, digital media and entertainment research, customer journey

Hulu's Emmy Win Marks a New Age for Content Creators

Posted by Savannah House

Thu, Sep 21, 2017

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Hulu made Emmy and television history on Sunday night when “The Handmaid’s Tale” took home the award for Outstanding Drama Series. Hulu’s dystopian drama beat out heavy hitters like Netflix, NBC and HBO to become the first streaming service to win the coveted award.

We’ve seen the rapid maturation of streaming services ever since Netflix released “House of Cards” in 2013. It was the first time a streaming service delivered Emmy-nominated original content that could compete and win against powerhouses like HBO and Showtime. And while “House of Cards” put Netflix on a path to become an award-winning and prolific content provider, a best series award eluded them.

That’s not to say that Sunday wasn’t a big night for other networks—HBO snagged the highest number of awards with 29 wins and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” was the top winning program with 9. But Hulu’s big win is a game changer—securing a seat at the table and putting networks on notice.

The sheer volume of award-winning content means there are literally thousands of quality programs available on every device imaginable. With that sort of competition, how do content creators ensure their programs will get visibility and retain viewers?

Gone are the days of linear viewing—people can access what they want, when they want, and how they want. Empowered consumers are more decisive and critical than ever before. For that reason, it’s important to understand what’s motivating people to discover, watch, and stick with shows.

Next month at TMRE, CMB’s Judy Melanson and ABC’s Lyndsey Albertson will share findings from a comprehensive content discovery initiative that gets to the heart of a viewer’s path to engagement, loyalty, and advocacy. While this is a case study on the disruption within the media and entertainment space, the challenges and solutions will resonate with any brand looking to gain traction with new products while navigating a market in flux.

The shift towards consumer-centricity transcends the entertainment space, but Hulu’s shining moment at the Emmy’s underscores the rise of streaming services as legitimate content providers and the need for all entertainment players to start considering what is motivating their customers if they are to be content kings.

Are you going to TMRE next month? If so, let us know! We’d love to connect you with one of our lead researchers to brainstorm upcoming projects. If you’re not going, tell us know anyway and we’ll send you the ABC presentation!  

Savannah House is a Marketing Manager at CMB whose list of shows to watch is longer than Game of Thrones season 7.

Topics: digital media and entertainment research

Putting Viewers First in the New Media Landscape

Posted by Lynne Castronuovo

Thu, Jun 22, 2017

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While recovering from a recent running injury, I logged A LOT of miles on the “dreadmill” and “helliptical” at the gym—both conveniently equipped with televisions to keep me entertained. Because I was also in the middle of a kitchen renovation, I found particular solace and inspiration in my good friends from HGTV: Tarek and Christina, Chip and Joanna, and the Property Brothers.

I’d grown particularly fond of Tarek and Christina’s “Flip or Flop”, so when I stumbled upon a recent New York Times article about them, of course it caught my attention. Why is it, the author wonders, do these home improvement “stars” now regularly share the covers and pages of magazines previously dominated by Brangelina? Gone are the days of traditional star power and mass appeal programming—as media consumption continues to fragment, niche is the new mass.

Media companies, from networks to celebrity magazines, are having trouble reaching these smaller groups. They’re still fishing in the biggest ponds left, which in the case of HGTV, has a relatively large fanbase in Middle America. But even with the sizable HGTV audience, there’s also the FX and AMC “big-city smarty-pants” groups to think about. With these splintering subgroups, what’s a media company competing for their attention and loyalty to do?

“Do I like these characters?” to “Who do I want to be?”

Traditional programming research focuses on what the viewer thinks about the show’s plot, characters, setting, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these elements are still essential to programming. However, in identifying subgroups based on the content they watch, we need to answer some important questions about identity, namely: “Who do I want to be?”, “Do I want to be perceived as the kind of person who watches this show?”, and “Can I relate to people who typically watch ‘Flip or Flop’?”

As people, we’re motivated by opportunities to reinforce or enhance our identity—it’s an integral piece to who we are. The brands we use (or in this case, the content we consume) can be an expression of identity, so we’re inclined to align ourselves with those that express it in a way that’s meaningful and true. In that vein, we find we can tell much more about a viewer or consumer by asking the identity-centric questions above than something like, “What do I think about the cast of ‘Flip or Flop’?”

This identity-centric framework is the basis for CMB’s identity measurement solution—AffinID. AffinID helps brands understand their target consumers’ image of the typical person who uses their brand (or watches their content) and finds ways to strategically influence that image to strengthen how much consumers identify with the image.

 As competition increases, identity measurement should play a key role to media companies.

So, as the media landscape becomes more fragmented and competitive, and as we continue to see niche groups with particular tastes pop up, media companies need to consider the important role identity plays in viewership—the more a person perceives a show and/or a network's typical viewer as the kind of person they are, they know and like, the more likely they are to engage in it.

This has distinct advantages for content creators testing new pilots—with so many players churning out quality, original content, there’s no room for mediocracy. Prior to pilot launch, creators can measure the identity benefits offered by the show to predict performance, help identify and profile likely viewers, and diagnose potential barriers to viewership.

This approach could be equally helpful to advertisers. Much of the advertising research conducted today is tactical, focusing on ad load and placement. The holy grail is finding what ads are “relevant” and aligned with not only the network, but also the particular program. And as viewers continue consume programming on a number of different platforms, it’s more challenging than ever for advertisers to be sure they’re reaching the right audience or fishing in the right pond.

AffinID can help advertisers identify perceptions of the viewer that drive these positive behaviors, strategically influencing them through the elements/moments featured in the program promos and identifying the ad placements/brand partnerships that make sense for a particular show.

While I won’t be watching Christina and Tarek as much now that I’m running outside again, and have a newly renovated kitchen, they remain important reminders of the future of media consumption. Like celebrities, there are fewer shows with “mass appeal” these days. In order for media companies (content creators, advertisers, etc.) to remain favorable to targeted audiences, they'll need to start looking through an identity-centric lens and consider questions like, “Who do I want to be?”

Lynne Castronuovo is an Account Manager at CMB who enjoys running outside when she’s not cooking meals in her shiny, new kitchen.

Topics: digital media and entertainment research, AffinID

Don’t get ganked! What the rise of esports can teach us about building products that survive

Posted by Josh Fortey

Tue, Mar 14, 2017

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PAX East just left town and if you don’t know what esports is—let alone what “ganked” means—you’re missing out. While traditional team sports continue to rule the roost in the American sports landscape, esports have become the fastest growing spectator sport.

To put this into perspective, the 2016 NBA championship finals game garnered 31 million viewers, the highest count of a NBA finals on both ABC and ESPN in over 10 years. Yet more people—36 million in 2015 and 43 million in 2016— tuned in to watch some of the world’s best League of Legends teams battle it out across the Summoners Rift for the world championship crown. But these remarkable figures aren’t unique to League of Legends. Twitch, the world’s largest gaming-orientated streaming platform, clocked in 95 million hours of esports streaming across the top 10 esports titles in January 2017 alone. And that 95 million hours of esports streaming is just one third of all the streaming that happened in January for these top ten esports titles. In addition to these staggering numbers, esports has effectively carved out a niche of digitally-engaged younger gamers; approximately 1-in-5 of all Millennials are now regularly watching esports online.

Based on this strong viewership, it’s no surprise that the esports category is estimated to surpass the $1.5 billion mark by 2020. But looking beyond these remarkable numbers, esports serves as an excellent example of an industry—comprised of brands, publishers, and developers—that continues to successfully deliver on rapidly changing consumer needs despite being in a constant state of adaptation, progression, and evolution. These factors are all important in understanding the meteoric rise of esports, but they also serve up a number of lessons about listening to your customers. Lessons that brands, marketers, and product innovators must learn if they want to develop products that stand the test of time:

  • Deliver meaningful experiences. The esports graveyard is littered with failed games that sent the right message to consumers and appeared to have the “winning formula”, but ultimately just didn’t cut it. Let’s look at Infinite Crisis. Infinite Crisis launched with all the makings of "the next big thing” in esports gaming: development by Turbine, the reputable gaming studio owned by Warner Bros., financial backing from a major IP in DC Comics, a spin on the hugely popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre, an extensive beta testing phase, and a highly accessible free-to-play business model. But despite these attributes, just two months after launch, development of Infinite Crisis ended. Why? Because its makers failed to nurture a critical mass of consumers across a generic gaming audience and ignored users’ complaints of unbalanced gameplay. Infinite Crisis serves as an example of what can happen when a brand doesn’t consider what its community of users/customers is telling them about their experience.
  • Nurture your community. The Infinite Crisis example also emphasizes the importance of nurturing and listening to your community. The growth of esports is largely driven by its engaged users, and so fostering these communities is key. Fostering a community is mutually beneficial to the brand and the user—the brand enjoys increased user retention while its customers have the satisfaction of knowing they are valued.
  • Community interactivity and engagement. Brands committed to their customer communities enjoy a more genuine dialogue with their users—ultimately helping strengthen customer loyalty. Strong brands recognize this as a cornerstone to a successful esports game. Take gaming giant Blizzard and its wildly successful game Overwatch. Overwatch developers pay close attention to feedback provided on their forums (underscores the importance of my first point, too), updates users on product developments, enhancements, and innovations (or product patches), and provide detailed product roadmaps. In the world of gaming, players aren’t just customers; they’re fans, loyalists, and advocates who deserve to be engaged and updated.
  • Embed consumers in product development. When gaming companies foster a community, they open up the possibility of embedding consumers into the early stages of product development. Across many of the most successful competitive gaming titles, publishers rely on the customer voice to formulate and enhance the brand experience from early alpha testing to open public test environments. Dota 2, a successful MOBA title, takes an innovative approach to embedding customers into its esports product strategy by crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. For example, the proceeds from players’ in-game cosmetic (items that don’t affect gameplay) purchases are partially donated to its competitive tournaments prize pools. Users can also create their own cosmetic items that can be sold through an online marketplace. Both initiatives resulted in Dota 2 customers amassing a staggering $20 million in prize money for its 2016 world championship tournament, The International—the largest overall prize pool in esports history.

Esports and competitive gaming are gleaming examples of how an industry has successfully used its customers’ voice to create sustainable and attractive products/experiences. It also demonstrates the perils of ignoring customer needs. Infinite Crisis is just one example among myriad others, including Dawngate, Battleborn and Minions. If there’s an overarching lesson to be learned from the explosive success of esports, it’s that brands should first and foremost prioritize the needs of its customers.

Josh Fortey is a Project Manager at CMB who is all too familiar with the feeling of being “ganked”.

Topics: product development, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research, growth and innovation

CMB Conference Recap: Yale’s Customer Insights Conference

Posted by Julie Kurd

Wed, May 11, 2016

Logo_Yale.jpgA hidden gem of a Consumer Insights conference, the Yale Customer Insights Conference is great for researchers seeking advanced quantitative methodological thinking. This conference is a rare mix of business and academia. Well-known PhDs came from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and Wash U to share their research and findings. Not to be outdone, mega-brand thinkers from companies including Spotify, Vail Resorts, Viacom, and REI also came to share their insights. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Peter Fader discussed how Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) drives business forward. He had an abundance of wondrously specific cases, including how Starbucks is shifting from knowing your “usual” locally to knowing your “usual” virtually so that you’re able to have a personal and frictionless experience no matter where you are. In other words, Starbucks has become “a CRM company that monetizes through coffee.” This attempt to understand what each customer wants/needs at the atom level is a prime example of what Starbucks is obsessing over (and it’s not the next roast).
  • Kirsten Lynch, the CMO of Vail Resorts, focuses on the emotion and passion of Vail’s very specific target audience. The company’s segmentation scheme directly feeds everything they do. The target customers are not just pedestrian affluent—they are significantly wealthy, with average household incomes of $280k, so the customer mindset is very focused on exclusivity and excitement (vs discounts). When guests return to one of the resorts, everything they do is tracked in the Vail app: ski runs, where they dine, the people they’re with, etc. Like Starbucks, the data again is available at that atomized level, which not only allows Vail Resorts to personalize the experience for the guest, but also allows Vail’s leadership to assess strategic assets and ask: what do we need next? Another lift or another restaurant? Where do we need it, and why?
  • Spotify took all of the data it collected last year and used it on a “Year in Music” campaign, which was not only able to give each subscriber a recap of his/her year in music, but also able to give specific countries and zip codes information on the most popular songs/albums in that area. Fun fact: Eric Solomon, Director of Global Brand Strategy for Spotify, shared that Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” was the most popular song last year in Williamsburg, one of NYC’s trendiest neighborhoods (can Beliebers be trendy?). People now listen to more than 40 hours of music in a week (yes, that’s the level of a full time job), and Spotify is using this data to segment by mood states (party, focus, sleep, workout, etc.) instead of by genre.
  • Ross Martin, Viacom’s EVP of Market Strategy and Entertainment, talked about how the company is moving passive fans to active “super” fans and discussed the shift from selling impressions to engagement. How can brands acknowledge and celebrate these super fans? Martin shared an example of a Millennial asking Viacom if he could make Ninja Turtle cuff links (a potential trademark violation) for his wedding. Viacom not only approved the use, but actually manufactured the cufflinks and sent them to the entire wedding party for an experiential point of connection with its influential fan base (which was an earned media opportunity for sure).
  • Michel Tuan Pham from Columbia Business School discussed how feelings and emotions affect our judgments and decisions. Whether there’s a “like” button or the option to give something a rating (e.g. 5 stars), people derive pleasure from the act of liking or rating something. His research found that even when there are no stakes and no decisions to be made, people like to “like.” His research examines motivation (narcissism) for these “likes”—and he concludes that as marketers, you should emphasize the “you” when asking customers to “tell others how YOU feel about Product X” because it’s more narcissistic than altruistically motivated.

Be sure to add this conference to your calendar for next year, and we’ll see you there.

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

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Topics: consumer insights, conference recap, brand health and positioning, digital media and entertainment research

Star Wars Marketing: Full Light Speed Ahead

Posted by Julia Powell

Thu, Dec 10, 2015

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens-1.jpgUnless you have been living in exile on the swampy planet Dagobah, you may have noticed that December 18th marks the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There are reminders in every corner of the consumer landscape from Chewbacca Spiced Latte Coffeemate peering out of the dairy freezer to Limited Edition Star Wars lipsticks from Covergirl (including silver and gold but not Chewbacca). Star Wars-licensed clothing abounds from discount retailer Primark to The Gap and more. There are Star Wars shoes available ranging from Crocs (complete with Yoda-sound emitting add-ons) to customizable Superstar 80s from Adidas.

Of course, there are toys, too, featuring characters from the previous films and The Force Awakens. These were launched in grand fashion with “Force Friday,” which took place on September 4th 2015 (falling conveniently ahead of the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons). There have been three months of merchandise build up, with more character items set to be released after the full plot of the film is revealed. While witnessing the amazing treasure trove of merchandise and brand tie-ins, I couldn’t help but wonder, how did LucasFilm’s promotion of the first film compare to Disney’s current efforts with The Force Awakens?

A long time ago (38 years) in a galaxy far, far away, the first Star Wars installment opened on May 25th in just 32 theatres. Initially marketed only to a small science fiction fanbase, momentum grew as the film received positive reviews and word of mouth spread. By August 1977, the movie was on over 1,000 screens. The film itself appealed to children and adults, and it featured ground-breaking 4 channel Dolby sound, adding to the overall cinematic impact (and audiences’ desire to repeatedly return to the theater). It dominated the box office in 1977, grossing over $461 million dollars domestically (over $300 million ahead of another sci-fi classic: Close Encounters of the Third Kind). To put this in perspective: that’s over 1.85 billion when adjusted for ticket price inflation.

 By Christmas 1977, Kenner Products, which held the original licensing rights to Star Wars action figures, was underprepared to meet the production demand the surprise sensation. What was a toy retailer to do when faced with the inability to deliver the characters every kid (and some adults) wanted? Easy: sell empty boxes. Ahead of the holiday shopping season, Kenner cleverly sold “Early Bird Certificate Packages,” including a certificate for action figures (available in February 1978), a diorama stand, and a Star Wars fan club membership card. Waiting to redeem those certificates must have been agony.

When Star Wars was first released, there was nothing else quite like it, and there was no way to anticipate the film’s success nor the audience’s desire for merchandise. With The Force Awakens, Disney knows its audience and has guaranteed there are enough items available to drive interest ahead of the film. There’s also enough stock on the shelves as families head to the theaters (in sharp contrast to Disney’s 2014 Frozen toy shortages). On top of the items available ahead of the release, there are several characters yet to be revealed, including Andy Serkais’ Supreme Leader Snoke, which means that there’s even more to come.

Have you ever waited in line for a pre or post-release movie toy? Will you be headed out to see The Force Awakens sporting any character socks?

An Associate Researcher and owner of a now vintage, non-mint condition Ewok village Julia Powell is. 

Topics: marketing strategy, digital media and entertainment research, retail research

What’s in a Name? ABC Family Grows Up

Posted by Julia Walker

Thu, Nov 12, 2015

This January, the ABC Family channel will become “Freeform.” The name change, triggered by a misalignment between ABC Family’s current brand strategy and associations the current name conjures, aims to appeal to the brand’s target audience—a more mature, young adult demographic. President Tom Ascheim calls this group "Becomers," males and females ages 14-34 who are going through an exciting life stage of firsts, ranging from "first kiss to first kid."

So, what can viewers expect from Freeform? According to the company, at least some things will stay the same. Freeform will keep a number of popular shows (e.g., Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters) and continue beloved traditions like Harry Potter Weekends and 25 Days of Christmas. But viewers can also expect new programming that takes the brand further from its family-friendly image. 

While the name change seems warranted, a rebrand can certainly flop if not carried out thoughtfully (think: when Radio Shack became “The Shack”). Here are four steps worth following to ensure long-term success in launching a rebrand:

1. Conduct thorough research about the competitive landscape and your target market. Rebranding involves a tremendous amount of preparation, time, and effort, and it risks confusing customers and losing brand equity. It’s wise to consider the repercussions before making changes that might not solve the underlying problems. Renaming infamous private security firm Blackwater to the shorter XE, for instance, hasn’t done the trick. For ABC Family’s part, research revealed many respondents unaware of the brand see it as “wholesome,” which is an indication that the channel’s name was a real sticking point to broadening its audience.

2. Communicate early and often. Being proactive about communication is essential during a rebranding campaign to avoid confusion and to dissuade potential rumors. All marketing and promotional materials should be honest and clarify any questions customers may have, such as the reasoning behind the change or what to expect from the new brand. On ABC Family's social media pages, for instance, some viewers expressed concerns about whether or not the new network would continue its popular 25 Days of Christmas campaign. The channel is leveraging these platforms as a way to answer questions and ease viewers’ fears.

3. Engage customers. Getting the consumer involved is a productive way to create buzz around the rebrand. One way ABC Family has done this is through a user-generated campaign (UGC) in which fans can create content to be posted on the channel’s website. This effectively generates hype around the launch just in time for the January television premieres. Social media can also be used to cultivate engagement with fans. ABC Family already has an impressive social media presence around hit show Pretty Little Liars, which is cable's second most tweeted-about series, but the channel will need to continue encouraging active participation throughout the rebrand.

4. Don’t let the name change stand alone. The name change itself should only be part of a rebrand, and it should be accompanied by an internal strategic shift. The branding must deliver on its promises, or the rebrand will fail to bring about any brand lift. A rebrand can’t be a "superficial facelift," but a sustainable strategic change that allows for the brand to flourish. 

Only time will tell if Freeform can create new content that attracts Becomers and evokes viewers’ "spirit and adventure," while also leveraging existing brand equity to maintain its current core audience.  

Julia Walker is an Associate Researcher who is very excited to continue watching Harry Potter marathons on the new Freeform network. 

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Topics: television, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research

Happy WoW-loween: World of Warcraft Gets Player Delight Right

Posted by Liz White

Thu, Nov 05, 2015

 world of warcraft, segmentation, customer experience

We all have our own way of celebrating the fall season. For some, it’s apple-picking, leaf-peeping, or downing mug after mug of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. For me, the defining event of the fall happens not in Boston, but in Azeroth at the World of Warcraft’s (WoW) annual celebration of Hallow’s End. Held every year, this two-week, in-game holiday is both a great example of effective seasonal marketing and a demonstration of Blizzard Entertainment’s nuanced understanding of its customer base. Not to mention, it’s just plain fun.

Hallow’s End was introduced to WoW in 2005, and in the past ten years, it’s grown dramatically in scope and popularity. Although Blizzard hosts other in-game seasonal celebrations (Pilgrim’s Bounty, Feast of the Winter Veil, and Brewfest are just a few), Hallow’s End seems to attract more notice both in and out of the game than any of the others. 

world of warcraft, segmentation, customer experience

Why all the excitement?  The success of Hallow’s End is due in large part to the fact that it offers something for every kind of player. Who are they, and what do they get out of Hallow’s End? Here’s a sampling:

  • Mount Collectors: Hallow’s End heralds the return of the Headless Horseman, a formidable raid boss with a sweet ride. The Horseman’s steed, an undead horse with glowing green eyes and hooves, is one of the most coveted mounts in WoW, and it’s only available for players to win during this event. Those who grab one will gleefully parade their prize for the rest of the year, and those who don’t are doomed to count down the days until the Horseman’s return. 

world of warcraft, segmentation, customer experience

  • World Travelers: For many (myself included) the most compelling feature of WoW is the massive scale and breathtaking beauty of the game’s world. Sadly, high-level adventurers have little incentive to explore low-level areas. During Hallow’s End, however, Candy Buckets appear in inns throughout Azeroth, offering in-game currency and achievements for players who seek them out. The Candy Bucket hunt is a great excuse to revisit old haunts and to seek out some new ones. 
  • Pet Battlers: Pet Battling is relatively new to WoW, but it’s become quite popular. Pets are small creatures or constructs that a player accumulates over time (ranging from the common Brown Rabbit to the exotic Anubisath Idol). Like WoW characters, pets can be leveled to acquire new abilities and then pitted against one another in gruesome fights to the death. Hallow’s End provides the opportunity for players to add seven new pets to their arsenal, including several creepy crawlies as well as a feline familiar who wears a witches’ hat and rides on a broom. Deadly and adorable! 
  • Duelists & Jokesters: In addition to its various quests and collectables, Hallow’s End creates a communal space for players, who gather to celebrate in front of the flaming Wickerman (see him below in one of my own screenshots!). It’s unusual to have so many players assembled at once, and this combined with the holiday mood tends to lead to player dueling. For those who love to duel, Hallow’s End is a perfect opportunity. WoW also encourages player-on-player action during the holiday by offering holiday themed wands that can be used to transform other players into bats, ghosts, skeletons, and even (gasp!) humans.

world of warcraft, segmentation, customer experience

And that’s not all! In addition to the above, other Hallow’s End offerings include raid-quality equipment (for dungeon delvers), garrison decorations (for garrison builders), and experience bonuses (for those leveling up).  Regardless of why and how you play, the holiday has something for you.

While World of Warcraft has had its ups and downs, it’s indisputably one of the most well-known and well-loved games. One reason is that Blizzard not only allows, but promotes and celebrates, a wide range of play styles during Hallow’s End and beyond. Ask yourself, does your business offer products or services intended for a broad customer base? Do you understand who they are, what they like, and what makes them different from one another? CMB can help! Contact us to talk segmentation and product development, and we’ll help you add firepower to your own arsenal. 

Happy Hallow’s End!

Liz White (BadDecision) is a level 100 Blood Elf Warrior, who loves blacksmithing, long flights over Azeroth, and running advanced analytics for CMB. Give her a shout either IRL or in-game, and she’ll be happy to help you optimize your build.

world of warcraft, segmentation, customer experience

Topics: customer experience and loyalty, market strategy and segmentation, digital media and entertainment research

Brands Get in a Frenzy Over Shark Week

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Summer brings many joys—BBQ’s, the beach, and one of my favorite holidays. . .I’m referring, of course, to Shark Week. For over 25 years, the Discovery Channel has loaded as much shark-related content as possible into a 7-day period, including TV programming, online content, and social media frenzies by both the network and other “official” (and non-official) partners.While some of these partnerships are no-brainers (e.g., Oceana, National Aquarium, and Sea Save Foundation), other less obvious partners such as Dunkin Donuts, Cold Stone Creamery, and Southwest Airlines, must get creative with their marketing to connect their brands to “the most wonderful week of the year.” Southwest, for example, offered flyers the chance to watch new content via a special Shark Week channel and to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to swim with sharks. Both Cold Stone Creamery and Dunkin Donuts debuted special treats (“Shark Week Frenzy”—blue ice cream with gummy sharks—and a lifesaver donut, respectively).

brand engagement, shark week, television

But it didn’t stop there—brands on social media found ways to tie in products to Shark Week in every way possible. Just take a look at these posts from Claire’s, Salesforce, and Red Bull.

shark week, brand engagement, television

So, what’s in it for these brands? Why go out of their way to connect themselves to something like Shark Week, which is seemingly unrelated to their services and products? It’s as simple as the concept of brand associations. Since brand associations work to form deeper bonds with customers, brands are often on the lookout for opportunities that will boost their standing with customers. Shark Week attracts millions of viewers each night, and since it’s one of the few true television events that remains, it presents the perfect opportunity for brands to engage with customers in a way they don’t often get to do. Furthermore, it demonstrates that these brands are in tune with what their customers like and what’s happening in the pop culture world. And, judging by the amount of interactions brands received from consumers, I’d say it worked.

If you missed the fun of Shark Week last month (the horror!) or just want more, don’t worry—Shweekend is just around the corner (August 29th), and I’ll be anticipating what brands can come up with this time. . .

Athena Rodriguez is a Project Consultant at CMB, and she is a certified fin fanatic. 

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Topics: advertising, marketing strategy, social media, television, brand health and positioning, digital media and entertainment research