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We Had Our Beignets and Learned Something Too

Posted by Jen Golden

Fri, Jan 31, 2020

Key Takeaways from The Media Insights & Engagement Conference

The Media Insights & Engagement conference was held this week in New Orleans, and we heard some consistent themes that are impacting the media industry. Here are a few of the highlights: 

Storytelling is essential in delivering emotional resonance, and helping consumers identify with a brand, content or campaign:

  • There were many talks on the power of storytelling. The need for authenticity was loud and clear. Consumers desire something that resonates with them, even at the detriment of production quality.
  • In ESPN’s presentation—Harnessing the Power of Storytelling in Sportsrelatability was the number one driver of engagement with sports content. Audiences need to care about what they are watching, and strong character development can help the content be more relatable. The other top drivers including being substantive (where the audience learns something new), emotionally provocative, humorous, and conversational.
  • Building on the importance of humor, Disney Channel’s Lisa Dracolakis and our own Erica Carranza presented “LOL 101” about the importance of humor in kids’ content. Humor is the number one predictor of kids liking a show, and the more “types” of humor (like visual, verbal, gross, mean, awkward, ironic, inside jokes, etc.) you can layer into content the funnier, and more engaging the content will be.
  • Evoking nostalgia is also important for content, as Warner Bros. spoke about in their presentation on “The Paradox of Choice.” With all the choices consumers have for streaming content today, the more choices they have, the more likely they are to choose something very familiar to them. With today’s socio-political climate, consumers also want something comfortable that can allow them to escape from their reality. Nostalgia plays a role in this, as movie and TV studios continue to revive and reboot hits from the past to keep their fan base interested and engaged (like Star Wars or The Hills).
  • As A&E Networks spoke about in “The Great Divide” as the country becomes more divided, Tribe Identity is on the rise as consumer look to relate with others like them. Prudential and Urban One’s “Legacy Lives on campaign is a good example of influencing the Tribe Image of a brand in a positive way with their key demographic: African American millennial women.

Disruption is forcing the media industry to always be thinking 10+ steps ahead:

  • The media industry is changing at a rapid pace, with more content, streaming services and platforms than ever to choose from. Disruption in the space is the new norm, and media companies need to be constantly innovating to keep up with their consumers.
  • Gen Z is also watching and consuming content in different ways than ever before. Hub Entertainment Research spoke about how watching gaming is becoming the new “watching TV” for many of them; whether that is watching others play games, watching tutorials or watching live e-sports competitions. It is also how many Gen Z’ers communicate with each other – directly within gaming platforms. It provides them with social connection, as face to face interaction is no longer the predominant form of “hanging out with friends.”
  • A Futurist from Paramount Pictures spoke about the next frontier of AR/VR in gaming. It’s only a matter of time before the “screen” becomes one of us, as AR/VR technology continues to improve at a rapid pace and Tech giants continue to invest billions of dollars in the space to not be left behind. He encourages established companies to “think like a start-up” as the same old way of doing something won’t last forever. They need to anticipate what’s next.
  • As audiences shift towards greater video consumption and screen time, survey research needs to shift too, meeting these younger consumers where they are most comfortable. Many presentations included user generated content, with selfie-type responses directly from respondents. These not only provided rich insights but helped bring the voice of the consumer directly into the boardroom.

And while there were many discussions at the conference around a clear divide in the US today, Suzanne Persechino who gave the aforementioned A&E Networks presentation said it best: when all else fails, it’s moments like this in media that can unite everyone together…

laughing baby yoda


Jennifer GoldanJennifer Golden, Project Director.

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

Topics: storytelling, emotional measurement, conference recap, Identity, Social Benefits, humor, Gen Z, nostalgia, AR/VR

It’s Not Just About Baby Yoda

Posted by Dr. Erica Carranza

Tue, Jan 14, 2020

Emotion, Identity & the Benefits of Disney+

Welcome to 2020! If you’re like me, you did at least three things over the holiday—visited family, ate too much, and read about the “decade in review.” Most articles looking back at the 2010’s mentioned the massive evolution in how we consume entertainment and the onset of the streaming wars. Disney+ and Apple TV+ have launched; HBO Max and Peacock are on the way. Analysts predict there will be too many subscription services to survive. Which will be among the last ones standing?

Netflix famously focuses on the customer, not the competition. But, if they’re going to learn to live with a major competitor, I suggest they focus on Disney+. Primarily because of how well Disney’s bastion of brands delivers emotional and identity benefits, and how important those benefits are to driving engagement—even compared to the functional benefits (like convenience) that helped Netflix upend the industry.

What are these different kinds of benefits? I’m so glad you asked! Here’s a bit of background…

At CMB, we identified four psychological benefits that drive brand engagement:

  • EMOTIONAL BENEFITS (e.g., positive feelings; enhanced joy; reduced frustration)
  • IDENTITY BENEFITS (e.g., strong self-esteem; pride; a positive self-image)
  • SOCIAL BENEFITS (e.g., conversation; social connection; a sense of belonging)
  • FUNCTIONAL BENEFITS (e.g., ability to accomplish tasks or goals; saving time or money)

Each plays a role in BrandFx, our approach to helping clients attract and retain their target audiences.

As a psychologist, I love our framework because it captures what drives people in all things—not just in how they spend their time and money. Each type of benefit fulfills a core human motivation. People strive to maximize good feelings and minimize bad ones (emotional benefits), enhance their self-image and self-esteem (identity benefits), connect and build relationships (social benefits), and efficiently achieve their goals (functional benefits).

In a recent study with over 20,000 consumers, we found that these benefits are important for brands across diverse industries. But the relative importance of each benefit does differ by industry, sub-industry, and even by brand. In the media space:  

  • For umbrella brands (e.g., Disney, Universal, Warner Bros.), emotional and identity benefits dominate importance, followed by social. So, to drive engagement, these brands must inspire positive feelings, bolster positive self-perceptions, and facilitate social bonds.
  • For franchises and IPs (e.g., The Simpsons, Harry Potter, Stranger Things), the same three benefits are key. Emotional and social are most important, followed by identity.
  • For streaming brands (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime), functional benefits are pretty important—so streaming brands should make things easy and affordable. But emotional and identity benefits still dominate.
StreamingWars_ImpDrivingBrandEng

And, while streaming brands score well on functional benefits, they lag Disney on emotion and identity. Among the many media brands we tested:

  • Disney brand Pixar wins on delivering emotional benefits to fans (by a large margin!)
  • …and Disney itself wins on identity.

Disney’s strength on identity benefits is linked to the strength of its brands, franchises and IPs—like Marvel, which also scores well with fans on identity. And, when people think of Disney, its IPs are top-of-mind. In analyzing over 10,000 responses to a free association question, we found that streaming brands call to mind generalities (e.g., “movies,” “shows,” “videos”), while the brands that line the top of the Disney+ homepage call to mind specifics—either specific characters, movies, shows or franchises (e.g., Mickey Mouse, Frozen, Iron Man, MCU, Yoda), or specific content elements (e.g., action, animation, space, superheroes, princesses).

StreamingWars_InitialReactions

This pattern holds even among streaming customers (e.g., Netflix or Hulu subscribers)—i.e., generalities are top-of-mind, not specifics. Arguably that’s good if the goal is to entertain the masses, but it limits the ability to enhance subscribers’ identities. For example, we found that pride in being a media brand’s fan is highly correlated with liking characters from its content.

I may be an outlier—and an ideal scenario—for a streaming brand like Netflix. When I think of Netflix, the first things that come to mind are Peaky Blinders, The Crown and Stranger Things. These are shows I’m proud to watch (identity benefit!), and all three are Netflix originals. Maybe I’m a sign of things to come. But there are yet more reasons to bet on staying power for Disney+, including:

  • Disney’s vast machinery devoted to helping fans experience emotional, identity and social benefits outside the platform. It handily beat other brands we tested on the many ways in which fans interact with its content (e.g., via consumer products, theatrical releases, theme parks and more).
  • Its strength with kids and families. Our study focused on adults, but it’s safe to assume Disney brands would perform well with kids. And today’s Descendants fans are tomorrow’s subscribers.

JediLikeMyFatherUnless-CroppedOn a related note, nostalgia is an emotional benefit that pulls double-duty for media IPs. Kids who are fans grow-up to be parents who bring their own kids into the fold. (This image captures my household dynamic pretty well...)

Then there are the strong social benefits that come with family co-viewing and bonding over shared interests.

Yes, Disney+ will have to succeed in delivering the functional benefits expected in the streaming space—like convenience and value for the money. So pricing Disney+ competitively was a smart move.

But, again, success in media isn’t about functional benefits. Not even for streaming brands. It’s about content that engages; that evokes strong feelings; that resonates, inspires and empowers; that sparks conversations and connects us with larger communities… In a way, the word “entertainment” trivializes the intense emotional, identity and social benefits we get from the content we love. (Why else would so many people be arguing online about Star Wars? They can’t all be Russian bots!)

I’m a sample of one, but my experience fits these findings. I got Disney+ the day it launched. They made the sign-up process easy. So far, so good with the functional benefits. But what really impressed me were the rows of recognizable, quality content I saw when I first logged in. I literally gasped. And I mean literally literally. Not literally in the way Millennials mean literally (i.e., not literally).

Compare that with my experience on other platforms. I tab through rows of shows and movies I’ve heard nothing about, rejecting lots of options before finding something of interest.

This suggests one more way in which Disney+ enters with an advantage: Its well-known franchises create a high ratio of familiar (vs. unfamiliar) content. This matters because…

  • People like the familiar! The comfort of the familiar feels good—it’s an emotional benefit in and of itself. The tendency to prefer things just because we know them even has a name in psychology: the “mere exposure effect.”
  • The glut of peak TV has created “too much choice” for viewers which, paradoxically, generates negative emotions. In this context, the reputable content on Disney+ makes it feel like a cultivated selection. Like Trader Joe’s vs. a grocery store.

To be clear, I’m not counting other subscription services out by any stretch. But they’ll want to carefully evaluate potential strategies for attracting and retaining customers in light of this shift in the competitive landscape (i.e., the giant mouse in the room). For example, by identifying:

  • Which of their original series inspire the strongest emotional and identity benefits for the broadest populations of viewers
  • Ways to market these series—both on and off their platforms—to harness the emotional perks of familiarity
  • Opportunities to help fans of these series express themselves and connect with each other (e.g., via licensed products), which boosts emotional, identity and social benefits

Meanwhile, Disney+ will need to keep delivering fresh content without saturating fans’ appetites. (Our analysis found that boredom is a death knell for media IPs.) But any brand that can showcase so much celebrated content is in a great position to survive—and even thrive—in the streaming wars.


Erica CarranzaErica is CMB’s VP of Consumer Psychology. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Princeton University. Prior to CMB, she led insights research at American Express, where she was a recipient of the CMO Award for Achievement in Excellence.

Follow Chadwick Martin Bailey on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Topics: digital media and entertainment research, BrandFx

2020: Sharpening Our Vision

Posted by Jim Garrity

Thu, Jan 02, 2020

CMB's 2019 Year in Review

2019 YIR

At CMB, we’re in the business of looking ahead—understanding consumer behavior and helping leading brands translate those insights into impact. As we enter a new year and a new decade, it’s only natural to reflect on the past, and to evaluate how we can use that knowledge to deliver more value to our client partners.

We’re proud to say that we had another strong year. We’ve successfully executed hundreds of engagements with some of world’s leading brands, representing industries from Tech & Telecom and Financial Services to Digital Media & Entertainment. We spread our insights to thousands at major conferences like TMRE and CRC, covering topics from the future of autonomous vehicles, and understanding financial wellness, to the art and science of getting a laugh.

This success was fueled by significant, tactical and strategic updates at CMB. We welcomed new digs at our new location, onboarded 30 new super-smart, talented individuals to our team, and promoted dozens of others, who have each made valuable contributions and impact on the quality of service we provide to our clients. We’re also thrilled that our work and culture has been recognized by organizations like GreenBook as a 2019 Market Leader, and by MarketResearchCareers’ 2019 Best Employees list.

Beyond the data, we continue to raise the bar for information security—maintaining our ISO 27001 certification and implementing leading edge security training for our team. As we embark on our 2020 journey, we’re committed to sharpening our vision, and building on our success.

2019 + 2020 = Foresight

The world is speeding up for consumers, brands, and the strategic insights partners who serve them. Those who merely react, will fall short in delivering value. At CMB, we believe success lies in harnessing both human and AI-enabled intelligence to create collaborative insights that deliver richer, truer stories that lead to business impact.

Data + Advanced Analytics = Insights

AI and automation are changing every industry. We’re leveraging several of these tools already to deliver the consultative value-add our clients seek – and we’re continuously evaluating others, so we’ll be adding many more in the months and years ahead. AI and automation present us with incredible opportunities to accelerate the path from data to insights. And we are excited about the near-term possibilities.

Data + Advanced Analytics + Storytelling + Expertise = Consultative Value-Add

We’ll continue to define the future of insights by investing in the visual and narrative storytelling capabilities, and talent that transform data into engagement, action, and enlightenment.  In a world of continual disruption and change, our commitment is not to maintain the status quo—it is to deliver the greatest value and keep the needs of our clients omnipresent.

In closing, I am excited about what we’ve already accomplished - but am even more excited about what we will achieve together going forward.


Jim GarrityJim Garrity, CEO of CMB, has over three decades of strategic, client-centered, market strategy leadership.

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

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey

To Take a Stand or To Play it Safe? The Choice Can Affect Your Brand Consideration

Posted by Jen Golden

Thu, Dec 19, 2019

Companies today have a lot to think about. Not only do they need to create compelling products and/or services that meet consumers’ functional needs, but how much consumers relate to a company’s  values is also crucial in gaining and building customer loyalty. Topics that used to be considered taboo, like race, politics, gender-identity and equality are becoming top-of-mind in brand campaigns and content, and a mis-alignment with customers can be very detrimental to a company or brand (take Pepsi’s failed campaign with Kendall Jenner as an example).

A brand’s Social Benefits includes how much a consumer agrees with the values, ethics, or morals expressed by a brand and how much a consumer believes a brand reflects their own personality, tastes or values.

  • In a recent self-funded study, CMB surveyed ~20,000 customers and prospects across 81 Finance, Tech, and Media brands.
  • Looking across brands, consumers who agree with the values, ethics, or morals expressed by a brand are over 3x as likely to consider using (or continue to use a brand) than those who disagree with the brand’s views in these areas. There is an even bigger gap for social media companies (those who agree are 5x more likely to consider a social media brand than those who do not agree with the values, ethics or morals expressed!).
  • Feeling neutral on a brand’s values, ethics, or morals doesn’t directly benefit brands. In fact, it’s not much better to have consumers feeling neutral on your brand’s social stance than having them disagree with what your brand is doing. Taking a stance can often be worth the risk if you are doing right in the mind of your customer.

1_SocialResponsibilityBlog_JenGolden_Dec2019

  • The same pattern holds true when we look at consumers perception that a brand reflects their own personality, tastes or values. They are over 5x more like to consider a brand if they agree with this sentiment.

2_SocialResponsibilityBlog_JenGolden_Dec2019

Agreeing and identifying with a brand’s values can also spill over into perceptions of a typical brand user. Consumers who agree that a brand reflects their personality, tastes or values are more likely to identity with the typical brand user – and this includes their political views. People who believe they share the same political views of a typical brand user are more likely to consider the brand than those who do not (40% are very likely to consider if they identify with politics of the typical brand user vs. 25% consideration for those who do not).

3_SocialResponsibilityBlog_JenGolden_Dec2019-1

As far as politics go, HBO has recently run into some backlash with their new show Watchmen, which is based on a political, left-leaning comic. While the show is getting rave reviews from critics and fans, some have flooded Rotten Tomatoes to give negative reviews calling the show “too woke” and questioning its “politically correct” narrative.  

BUT, is this something HBO needs to be worried about? HBO’s current customers skew progressive politically, and 58% of HBO’s customers identify with the perceived political views of a typical HBO user. 54% of HBO’s customers also believe that HBO reflects their own personality, tastes or values. While HBO may be angering some by choosing to air Watchmen, they are willing to take a risk to connect more closely to the politics their core customer base identifies with vs. not engaging in the topic of politics at all.

4_SocialResponsibilityBlog_JenGolden_Dec2019

Ultimately, people want to feel connected with their favorite brands, and with increased political polarization, it’s more important than ever for brands to understand their customers. Intimately knowing your audience (like HBO may have known when they green-lit Watchmen) can make it safer to take a stand politically or otherwise. In fact, taking a stand can deepen the audience’s emotional connection with the brand because it is aligned with their customer’s personal beliefs, making them a more loyal and engaged customer. Actress Regina King from the Watchmen series said it best when she said in response to the show “Most of us, as human beings, want to feel like someone else knows their pain and is talking about what they’re talking about.


Jennifer GoldanJennifer Golden, Project Director.

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

 

Topics: brand health and positioning, co-creation, BrandFx, brand tracking, Social Benefits

The Inner Battle Royale: Who Is The Fortnite Fan?

Posted by Josh Fortey

Mon, Dec 16, 2019

Sirens ring out across Dusty Depot. As the ground begins to shake, a rocket erupts from beneath, its pace intensifying as it scars the horizon. Suddenly, the sky cracks and blue rifts appear, rockets raining down; a meteor ruptures the sky, hurtling to the ground. The impact devastates the island as a black rift emerges, engulfing everything that surrounds it. Nothing is left but darkness­­—is this the end?

It is not the end, nor is it a Hollywood movie or HBO fantasy drama. This is Fortnite Battle Royale, the highly disruptive online video game that serves as a barometer for success in this gaming genre. This much-hyped seasonal event attracted a peak 1.6 million viewers on Twitch and a peak 4 million viewers on YouTube. The success of this event is a positive development for the game following recent reports of a 52% decline in in-game spending, lagging viewership figures and general dissatisfaction with the state of its most recent season. Live content spectacles help renew focus away from the all-too-familiar proclamations of a dying game or a dying and oversaturated Battle Royale genre, but Fortnite has a bigger problem that may ultimately destabilize growth: the image of the typical Fortnite player.

In our recent BrandFx 2.0 research, CMB interviewed thousands of gamers regarding more than 30 media, entertainment and gaming brands on this very topic. We found that for players of a game, the most important driver of recommendation is how well the most recent gaming session elicits positive emotion. For non-players, however, the most important driver of considering a game is their perception of that games’ typical player. We also found that for gamers’ who don’t play Fortnite, perceptions of the typical Fortnite player were considerably more negative than perceptions of the typical brand user for prospects of other media brands.

Fortnite_NonUserPerceptionsTypicalUser_Final_JPG

Takeaway #1: The Battle of Divisive Emotions

Among the users and non-users of any of the 33 media brands we tested (and particularly among other gaming brands such as Nintendo, Pokémon and Mario), some of the starkest differences were between how Fortnite players perceive the typical Fortnite player and how non-Fortnite players perceive the typical Fortnite player. This in spite of what is a relatively cohesive perception of audience demographics (i.e. both Fortnite players and non-players perceive the typical Fortnite player as younger male teens).

 Takeaway #2: A Middle School Dance: Fortnite On One Side, Non-Fornite On the Other

Non-Fortnite players are also more likely to view themselves as “very different” to the typical Fortnite player, “very disinterested” in making friends with them and more likely to “really disrespect” the typical Fortnite player. Only two other brands come close to this level of consistent negative perception among non-brand users across all three categories (The Simpsons and Pokémon are the other two).

Fortnite_NonUserRelationshipWithTypicalUser_Final_JPG

Takeaway #3: Converting Non-Fortnite Players

Ultimately, it could be these typical player perceptions that feed into the negative emotional association to Fortnite among non-players, in turn potentially hindering future player growth.  When asked how they imagine it would feel to play Fortnite, the non-Fortnite gamers are among the strongest of the tested brands to state that they expect the experience to be more "bad" than "good" (35%: +15% vs. media average).

While Fortnite continues to defy critics claims of the game’s death, and hold off fierce competition from the likes of Apex Legends and PUBG, its continued success may hinge on changing the substantial negative perceptions of its user base.


Josh ForteyJosh Fortey is an Account Director at CMB, and avid gamer.

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

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, consumer insights, Consumer Pulse, digital media and entertainment research, Market research, Identity, emotion, technology, Gaming