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Walt’s Golden Child+

Posted by Ann Mondi

Fri, Dec 04, 2020

Disney+ Golden Child Blog Opener Dec 2020

Growing up as the second oldest of five children, I can confidently say that you parents of multiple children are lying when you say you don’t have a favorite. Sure, the favorite may vary depending on time or circumstance, but still…we know. Most parents, despite this, do a great job of making sure their time, love, and attention is spread equally for the most part. But when Disney reorganized its media properties under the heading of Disney Creative (Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, Disney-ABC TV), it made no secret of it that Disney+, with its 73M subscribers, is the current golden child.

With the pandemic still taking a toll on Disney’s parks, resorts, and cruises and the streaming wars impacting the success of cable networks across the board (yes, even Disney-ABC TV), the company has turned its attention and resources to streaming, specifically Disney+. It announced a strategic reorganization of its media and entertainment business, including the addition of a distribution team, with the goal of amplifying its success in the space. The distribution team will take the lead on monetizing content and oversee operations of the company’s other streaming services, including Hulu and ESPN+. These reallocation of resources and public affirmations make clear that Disney sees this direct to consumer model, specifically in the form of Disney+, as the path to the future financially and strategically.

Why specifically Disney+ when there are so many offerings under its media and entertainment umbrella? There’s a number of factors that set up the streaming service to win from the start, from the timing of COVID-19 and the subsequent increase in streaming to the library of solid classics and originals not just drawing in but retaining subscribers. Disney+’s strong value proposition and brand awareness gave it an edge that other platforms had to build up over time – and some, like Hulu, are still struggling to do so.

Interested in reading more? Read this article about the Emotional, Identity, & Other Benefits of Disney+ >

You may remember that back in 2019, Disney took control of Hulu, the then-future of Disney’s streaming ambitions. As any child knows, there are few things more disheartening than having your parent take something from you only to give it to your sibling. Soon after Disney took over Hulu, the streaming services proposed a plan for its competitive growth via international expansion. While initially backed by the parent company, Disney has since pivoted and now chosen to pursue a new general entertainment service outside the United States under Star, the company’s Indian media subsidiary. The reason for this change? Disney claims it’s due to Star’s preexisting international name recognition, though there is room to speculate that it does not want to inflate the value of Hulu when it still owes Comcast one-third ownership share at a price TBD in 2024 for the takeover deal. For now, Hulu will take a backseat to the golden child Disney+. Perhaps we should anticipate some more angsty content from Hulu (or maybe it’s “just a phase”).

As the streaming category continues to grow and evolve, consumers will likely need to decide at some point which services to keep and which to cancel. These decisions will be based on several factors, including the habits they’ve established and budgetary reasons (who doesn’t want to get the most bang for their buck?). Bundling options may become more important. With Disney+, its parent company also owns linear networks (ABC, ESPN, etc.), Amazon Prime Video is included in your Prime subscription, and the streamlined connection to Apple’s hardware ecosystem may make Apple TV an easier choice.

Another huge deciding factor is obviously the content libraries. Why subscribe if your favorite shows and movies aren’t available? Netflix, perhaps the only “pure” streaming service, may struggle in this area compared to Disney, who has a myriad of content at its disposal. Disney’s media re-organization may suggest that it plans to go around traditional cable operators and package its networks’ content via a streaming bundle. The seismic shake-ups continue with yesterday's announcement that Warner Brothers will simultaneously air ALL of its 2021 movies on HBO Max. With so much uncertainty, the one thing we can count on is more disruption. Personally, I can’t wait to grab my popcorn and watch it unfold.


Ann is a serial streamer who loves keeping up with industry trends in media and technology. She frequents virtual webinars and conferences to continuously grow her understanding of the market and consumer (want to know which one she’s signing onto next? Just ask!).

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Topics: television, digital media and entertainment research, Market research, technology, COVID-19

The Rise of Multiplayer Shouldn’t Be Sus to Anyone

Posted by Blair Bailey

Thu, Dec 03, 2020

Among Us Blog Opener

Ask any CMBer what they love about CMB and there’s a good chance they’ll say it’s the people. Social distancing hasn’t been easy on anyone, but it’s been especially difficult for a company that works so collaboratively and regularly schedules social events and club meetings. Since March, we’ve been looking for ways to stay connected and recently, a group of us hopped on the bandwagon for a game of Among Us.

THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF MULTIPLAYER GAMES

Multiplayer has been a part of the gaming community since the 1970s. But the desire for social connection in a year of social distance has increased their popularity. At the start of lockdown in March, Microsoft reported a 130% increase in multiplayer gaming among Game Pass users, and 23 million new friendship connections over Xbox Live. Research on massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) show that benefits of this genre include a stronger sense of social identity, more social competence, and lower levels of loneliness. Nurturing social connections through multiplayer online gaming can create and build friendships as strong as those IRL.

HOW AMONG US IS BREAKING BARRIERS

Even so, many online multiplayer games have an air of exclusivity. The idea of joining an MMO or jumping into a game of Fortnite is daunting to non-gamers and even some casual gamers. Both in terms of gameplay itself – a battle royale situation feels more isolating than ever these days – and hardware – if you don’t have a console or PC for many games, you’re out of luck.

It’s Approachable

Among Us dismantles some of these barriers. The overall gameplay is familiar to many who spent their childhoods playing neighborhood games like Mafia: the crewmates works individually and collectively to build trust and uncover who among us are the Imposters (or if you’re an Imposter, to avoid being suspect…or “sus”), all while engaging in micro-tasks—quick little puzzles and games—throughout the spaceship. It takes a few rounds to get into the groove, but overall, the gameplay is very approachable and a lot of fun.

It’s Accessible

Making the game even more attractive is how accessible the program itself is – Among Us can be played on either PC or mobile, and it’s cross-platform so your friends can play together using whatever technology they have available. You don’t need a high-powered gaming rig to play the game, but if you already have one, that’s fine too! With the rise of video conferencing during COVID, players can easily enhance their games. While discussions in Among Us are typically done via in-game chat, you can invite your friends to a Zoom call and have those conversations “in person.”

Its Connecting Us

It’s no wonder that Among Us reached over 80 million players by mid-September, a number previously met by Pokémon Go in 2016. It’s the perfect game for this day-and-age. The definition of a “gamer” has been expanding for a long time, and the major change in everyone’s lifestyles has helped with that expansion exponentially. We saw this with the major success of Animal Crossing in the spring and it’s continuing with Among Us and other games now. With both Animal Crossing and Among Us, there’s a social aspect – either through direct multiplayer or a larger game community. Recent research showed that the longer a player played Animal Crossing, the happier they felt, possibly due to the social features the game presents. The only question remaining is when social distancing ends, will these newly minted gamers continue to play?

While the first impulse once the pandemic is over may be to rush outside and connect in-person, being isolated in lockdown has highlighted the importance of social connections, both as a human need and within the gaming industry. Gamers will be drawn to these new types of social connections made in quarantine, and developers should continue to build games within this space.


Blair BaileyBlair Bailey is a Data Manager at CMB, and avid gamer who graciously coordinates our Among Us games at CMB.

Follow CMB on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Don't forget to immerse yourself in our latest gaming research: A Gamer's Journey | The Virtual Reality Edition. And stayed tuned for more of our findings--VR and beyond.

Explore A Gamer's Journey

Topics: marketing strategy, digital media and entertainment research, Market research, Identity, Gaming, Social Benefits, COVID-19

Who Are Your Fab 5?

Posted by Julie Kurd

Mon, Nov 30, 2020

Fab 5 Blog Opener (1)Who are the 5 people you regularly interact with in your professional life? Michael Veltri asked this key question during his virtual appearance at my company’s Virtual Sales Kickoff. His ideas about connection are especially relevant in a pandemic, where travel is limited, and our worlds can shrink unless we’re engaging regularly with clients, prospects, colleagues, and industry professionals.

Veltri’s points:

  1. CONDUCT A FAB 5 INVENTORY: Who are your current Fab ~5? These are the people who straddle the line between friend and business colleague. You want each other to win and you watch out for ideas/content/innovative methods that they may want to learn about, and vice versa. You show them what you found for them, and you share conversations about goals, plans, and life. You might text, DM, collaborate, video conference, video chat, enjoy virtual drinks, or create groups and book clubs.
    During the pandemic, I’ve also been jogging ‘with’ some of my Fab 5 (well, with their podcasts) 4 mornings a week. With that long-form of listening, I learn a lot, and I rely on their deep knowledge to continue to explore my own interests*.
  2. EXPAND YOUR FAB 5 DREAM TEAM: This network expansion effort is about who you need in your future Fab 5, and vice versa, so that you can drive impact (grow your company’s bottom line, expand your community service impact, realize personal objectives, hire amazing colleagues). Once you identify your future focus, you can make sure that you are investing hours that help bring you to that new reality.
    A friend recently told me her personal trainer calls her every Monday morning before 8am to quiz her on her weekend wellness behaviors. The first call, she was irritated, but after three weeks, she’s choosing healthier options and she can’t wait for those weekly chats. He’s unlocking the value in their relationship by authentically engaging and motivating her future wellness by focusing on her KPIs. She said she’s 75% more likely to renew for his new gym at a 20% premium cost. Is it just a sales ploy? No way. He is just being himself, and he is increasing the probability of his success by being human and learning how her needs dovetail with his solution fit. She was part of his Fab 5, and now he is going to be part of hers.
  3. TAKE RELEVANT ACTION: Veltri encourages us to take actions to build our Fab 5. Action has never been easier to initiate, because participating in virtual meetings and events is relatively frictionless (no travel, no fee in most cases). You can enter the room with your video off and voice muted (no expectations from the group), and you can log off and re-charge at will when you need a break. This incredible velocity of content and access to networking will undoubtedly decline after the vaccine is distributed and we begin commuting again.
    My recommendation is start today with a commitment to yourself to invest X hours getting to know your clients and industry colleagues more deeply. Pledge some time every week to interacting, to helping our industry peers whose jobs were eliminated during the pandemic, to community service, to personal goals, and/or to improving our understanding of our ever-expanding Insights community. Register and participate in the abundance of free events with Insights Association, Greenbook, Quirks, QRCA, ESOMAR, TMRE, Women in Research, Jamin’s Tuesday Series, university offerings, etc.
* If you’re looking for industry podcasts, start with Jamin Brazil’s Happy Market Research Podcast, Sima Vasa’s Data Gurus, Adam Jolley and Adam Dietrich’s The Ride, Priscilla McKenney’s Ponderings from the Perch, and I have a list for non-industry but start with AJ Kieran’s The 16 oz Canvas, which features the humans creating beer can label design and more.

Julie KurdFor more conversation on Fab 5, message Julie or another colleague to continue the dialogue. Julie Kurd is the VP Business Development at CMB.

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Topics: conference recap, Market research, mrx, Networking

Ignited 2020 | CMB Lights the Night

Posted by Clairese Boser

Wed, Nov 25, 2020

LTN Blog Opener Nov 2020After successfully transitioning to a completely virtual workforce earlier this year, CMB was faced with a new challenge this Fall: how to virtually raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Annual Light the Night (LTN) Walk. Since 2008, LTN has been an integral part of the CMB community, with several in-person fundraising activities we look forward to year over year.

Now that we were all working from home, how could we maintain this important tradition and meet our fundraising goal?

Our LTN core team has always been made up of our Boston-based employees, but this year there were no barriers for a full-time remote employee to participate (me!). Since joining CMB two and a half years ago, I had been looking for an opportunity to become more actively involved in CMB’s community, despite the 700+ mile distance between myself and the office. When I heard about our 2020 LTN goal, I jumped at the chance to not only help transition the events to a virtual format this year, but to also build a baseline for how we can continue to involve remote CMBers for years to come.  

After several brainstorming sessions and input from other CMBers, we successfully re-imagined our usual slate of events:

  • BBQ: Initially, the fundraising team didn’t think that it’d be possible to host our annual BBQ luncheon, which is perhaps CMB’s favorite event of the year. But in the CMB spirit, we refused to miss out on award-winning BBQ from our very own CMB pit master, Jared. It was all hands-on deck, and thanks to everyone’s feedback at CMB, we figured out a way to distribute Jared’s BBQ safety and efficiently. Orders were placed, 83 pounds of brisket and 60 pounds of pork butt were smoked, deliveries were coordinated, and a team of volunteers (masked and gloved) met up in a parking lot to pick up and deliver orders throughout the Boston area. It’s safe to say we made a lot of CMBers—and their families—happy and full.

LTN BBQ Gallery Photos 2020

  • AUCTION: Another fan favorite: our annual live auction, with items donated by our coworkers. Fortunately, it was easier to conduct our first-ever online auction since nonprofits have been leveraging online auction fundraising tools for years. In total, 53 items were donated by our teammates– just a few examples are a Zoom Santa visit, chocolate babka, biscotti, homemade Ruth Bader Ginsburg dolls, knit hats and scarves, virtual bread baking class, and a sake gift basket. While we had fewer items up for grabs than in 2019, we still raised close to same amount! As a bonus, the online platform made for some intense (but friendly) bidding wars – and some of us may have spent our lunch breaks coming up with a plan of attacks for the items at the top of our list.

Live Auction

  • SOCIAL COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES: In past years, the CMB Social Committee has run a variety of in-person events, such as bake sales, soda & candy sales, board game tournaments, and paint nights. Despite obvious challenges, the team pivoted to virtual with ease, running a step challenge, an online board game tournament, fantasy football, and a “Two Truths and a Lie” game.

2 Truths and a Lie

Never underestimate the power of community! While we will no doubt go back to some in-person events after we return to “normal” (whenever that is), we absolutely plan to include several virtual fundraising events in the future to ensure the growing number of full-time remote employees at our company are able to participate. Through this year’s LTN fundraising efforts, we ignited our community and expanded the ways our workforce can engage with and participate in our culture more inclusively. I am proud to announce that despite the limitations this year, we exceeded our $10,000 goal, raising a total of $12,506 completely virtually!

Please join our support of LTN here.


Clairese BoserClairese Boser is a Sr. Project Manager at CMB, based out of her home in Southeast Michigan, and is a proud member of the 2020 Light the Night CMB team.

Other members who contributed to this year's success include: Ashley Harrington, Athena Rodriguez, Adrianne Economu, Jared Huizenga, Cameron Miller, Blair Bailey, Hannah Russell, Lauren Sears, Daniel Alderstad, Saya Higano, and more. 

Follow CMB on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Topics: Light the Night,, Community Involvement, CMB Social Committee, CMB Culture

‘Tis the Season for Change

Posted by Courtnie Hallendy

Mon, Nov 16, 2020

Holiday Season Fin Serv Blog Opener

Impact of Shifting and Alternative Payment Options

The leaves are turning, the temps are cooling (I’ve already had the first snowfall of the year), and I’m about to replace the Halloween candy with Holiday cookies! While the shelves are filling with the familiar touchstones of the holidays, for most of us this will be a very different holiday season.

All year we have been watching and analyzing the impact of 2020 on consumer behavior trends. Some changes, born from the pandemic, seem to have some longevity to them – online grocery shopping and delivery, reduced travel, shifting spending habits among credit cards (especially those whose rewards focus on travel), and increased usage in alternative payment methods. With the possibility of another round of shutdowns, household budgets are tighter than ever. The question is, what do these shifts mean for the next few months of consumer behavior?

2020 Holiday Shopper Anxiety Micrographic

This holiday season I am most interested in two, closely linked, consumer habits: increased online shopping, and changing payment methods. Way back in April of 2020, CMB looked at consumer sentiment and behaviors related to COVID. Though we were just at the beginning of our new normal, 42% of consumers said they were doing more online shopping and 52% said that they plan to continue this after normal returns. Factoring in anxiety around in-store shopping as we enter prime retail sales time, we should look at how payment methods have changed in 2020.

Fin Serv Season for Change Blog Nov 2020 Activities

Like many Americans, since March, I am spending less overall, at different places, and with different payment decision criteria (debit vs. credit and which credit card). For example, in my house most non-household bills went on the one credit card that gave us airline miles. We love to travel, so this just made sense. Well, I don’t see that trip to Spain happening in the next 8 months, so I evaluated credit cards that provided rewards relevant to my current normal and ended up with a new card…Amazon! Now, this is my go-to card, that replaced my airline card and then some… I am putting everything on it – groceries, cell phone bills, vet bills, etc. I am in the group of consumers that are shifting their top of wallet decision criteria and expanding usage to take advantage of rewards that are relevant to me.

For others (especially Gen Z) who don’t have, use, or want a credit card, we are seeing a shift to alternative payment methods. Our own research from late 2019 showed that PayPal had an advantage over the other brands we tested, but this was before most large credit card issuers introduced their own versions of alternative financing.

Fin Serv Season for Change Blog Nov 2020

We have seen an increase in reported shifts away from credit cards and cash to debit or alternative financing options like Affirm or PayPal – especially among those in the lower household income ranges and younger consumers. The CMB Financial Services team is working with clients to understand what this means for their business, what products they should be marketing, and what, if any, partnerships they should be leveraging. The consumer data is supporting what we all know to be true in our own households – our decision criteria is different now than it was before. The decision of what and when to purchase, but also the decision on how to pay for it.

Now is the time when consumers are making their holiday shopping plans. Now is the time to get the voice of the customer to drive the late Q4 strategy. How are they going to make their gift purchases (or the materials they need for the next great Pinterest inspiration)? How are they going to pay for things? A deep understanding of consumer behavior and motivations will help guide us towards the right questions to ask and create meaningful, pandemic-resistant, consumer-centric business strategies.


Courtnie Hallendy

Courtnie Hallendy is an Account Director at CMB, with more than 15 years of experience in market research on both the client and vendor sides of the business.

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Topics: financial services research, consumer insights, Market research, BrandFx, COVID-19, Emotional Benefits, financial services