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Live Sports: Fans' Last Connection to Cable is Fraying

Posted by McKenzie Mann

Wed, Jul 18, 2018

friends watching tv

Earlier this year, I was trying to watch my beloved Patriots play in the AFC East Divisional Championship game while standing in the airport security line. After numerous failed attempts at downloading streaming apps that promised an uninterrupted game, I resorted to real-time game updates in the form of a line with how many yards the ball went each down and a description of the play.

I was frustrated, to say the least—a missed opportunity as we know fostering the right positive emotions is key to building and maintaining loyal and engaged customers.

When I finally made it through security, I went straight to a restaurant where Tom Brady was on every screen. This time, cable television saved the day.

Live sports is one of the last threads tethering people to traditional cable packages. For most other content, consumers have a plethora of services to choose from—traditional streaming like Netflix, premium network streaming like HBO Now, and even broadcast network streaming like CBS All Access. And with Netflix recently becoming the number one choice for television viewing, it’s no surprise an estimated 22.2 million people cut the cord in 2017—a whopping 33% increase from 2016. 

As more consumers leave the traditional model for “à la carte” style, nontraditional services like Yahoo, Facebook, and ESPN are challenging cable providers’ last bastion of sports. While there have been hiccups in some of these services, like poor streaming quality and cutting out of games altogether, the technology is improving and eventually will offer sports fans a legitimate alternative to watch games on.  

To combat this rising competition, CBS and the NFL recently extended their agreement to stream all games on CBS All Access through the 2022 season—safeguarding their rights to the coveted (and profitable) football games, at least for now. 

New technology is disrupting the industry and cable providers will need to adapt and embrace innovation to stay competitive. This is already happening for some. Charter Communications’ Spectrum now offers à la carte channels instead of the traditional comprehensive packages, Comcast has expanded their on-demand library (including full seasons), and DirecTV now offers DirecTV Now, a streaming service separate from their satellite plan. Some major providers are even exploring new verticals to add to their portfolios, as is the case with Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile.

There’s tremendous opportunity for traditional providers as the competition in the digital streaming market heats up. But companies must carefully consider these opportunities—with so many options (and more to come) available to consumers, solutions must impress off the bat, or lose fans to a competitor for good.

We’ve seen this play out in other emerging tech categories, like virtual assistants. As big players like Apple, Google, and Amazon pour millions into making their virtual assistant tech smarter, they need to embrace a new kind of customer-centricity—one that’s built on an understanding of the functional, emotional, and social identity benefits that drive adoption, engagement, and loyalty. To learn more, watch our quick 20-minute webinar and learn how brands can win the virtual assistant war—lessons for any brand experiencing disruption in their category:

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McKenzie Mann is a Project Manager II at CMB. She spends most of her spare time trying to convince her friends that it’s funny to replace the word “man” with “mann.” It's a work in progress, but mann will it be great when it catches on.

Topics: technology research, television, digital media and entertainment research, growth and innovation, emotion

Scoring with Emotion: A lesson for brands

Posted by Daniel Alderstad

Wed, Jun 27, 2018

soccer fans

If it’s Sunday morning in the Alderstad household, I’m engrossed in a football match on my tablet. I’m not talking about American football, I mean the real kind.

I’m from Sweden but live in the US, so I like to keep up with my home team—even if it’s an unimportant match against a non-threatening opponent. Following my team keeps me connected with fellow fans, especially when I’m watching alone from thousands of miles away.

I may be watching from my house, but I feel the same cocktail of nervousness and excitement as the other fans who are actually in the stadium. During a match, nothing else matters except for what’s happening on the screen.

Most matches take me on an emotional rollercoaster and leave me feeling high or low. I try to not let those feelings linger and dictate the rest of my mood for the day. 

I like to think that I can separate my feelings from the match, but I know that’s not entirely true. When it comes to my favorite team, eleven players chasing a ball can definitely impact how I’ll feel for the rest of the day.

Why is that?

Because I’m human and humans aren’t 100% rational.

And this is an important lesson for brands. Too often are we assuming a rational consumer—one who is motivated by the seemingly “obvious” and “rational” factors, like the functional features of a product. And yes, the functional benefits a brand or product provides is important. But, we can’t dismiss the power of emotion.

The link between emotions and decision-making has gained considerable attention in psychology, marketing, and even economics. But, I believe how emotions impact our decision-making process is still underestimated and underleveraged.  

At CMB, our solutions are grounded in consumer psychology and we know that consumers are motivated by three types of benefits, including emotional, functional, and identity. We’ve developed proprietary tools that measure how brands and touchpoints make people feel—understanding the emotional payoffs consumers experience, want, and expect from a brand.

Instead of focusing solely on what a product (or in my case, a team) can “do” for the consumer, brands must understand what emotions they should be evoking from target consumers, then create messaging and experiences that elicit such feelings. 

My emotional connection to my team may be a little mad, but isn't the duality of the human psyche—where our thoughts and decision-making are strongly driven by an unending conflict between logic vs. emotions and thinking vs. feeling—something to cherish?

I certainly think so.

Daniel Alderstad is a senior associate researcher who has tried (and failed) to get his peers to acknowledge that "football" is played with one’s feet and a round ball, while "American football" (which he very much appreciates) should be called "throwy-hand-ball-with infrequent-but- guaranteed-to-score-kicks-occasionally".

Topics: emotional measurement, emotion

How L.L. Bean Weathers Customer Loyalty

Posted by Nicole Battaglia

Wed, Apr 11, 2018

 LL Bean Boots_cropped

Sorry outdoor apparel fans, L.L. Bean isn’t accepting your beat-up duck boots anymore. The Maine-based outdoor retailer recently ended its flagship Lifetime Return Policy.

 L.L. Bean founder Leon Leonwood Bean introduced this policy over 100 years ago to prove their commitment to quality products and ensure customer satisfaction. And since then, generations of Bean-loving customers have enjoyed the forgiving policy.

But not everyone’s been so kind. A growing number of customers have taken advantage of L.L. Bean’s generosity by treating it more like a free exchange policy. According to the Associated Press, the company has lost $250 million on returned items that cannot be salvaged or resoled in the last five years alone!

From a financial perspective, this move makes sense. But the loyal Bean boot enthusiast and market researcher in me is curious about potential branding implications—will this alienate lifelong customers who might view this as L.L. Bean as “breaking its promise”?

For more than 100 years, L.L. Bean has built its brand image around “designing products that make it easier for families of all kinds to spend time outside together”. Enduring Northeast winters as a kid, I can vouch for the quality of their products—they are truly second to none. L.L. Bean isn’t ‘cheap’, but I don’t balk at their prices because I know I’m getting something proven to withstand harsh winters.

But, my loyalty for L.L. Bean runs deeper than the quality of my boots. Growing up in a Bean-loving home, I have a strong emotional connection to the brand.  I have memories of flipping through the catalog (back when that was the popular way to shop) and getting excited about when it was time to order a new backpack and matching lunchbox—monogrammed, of course.

When I’m home for the holidays, I head out to the local L.L. Bean store to make my holiday gift purchases. In 2015, L.L. Bean featured a golden retriever puppy on the cover of its holiday catalogue. As someone who grew up with goldens, this ad resonated with me on an emotional level.

I also strongly identify with other L.L. Bean enthusiasts. Most kids I grew up with had the monogrammed backpacks, and when I went to college, everyone wore Bean boots. My image of the typical customer is clear, relatable and socially desirable—the three aspects of social and self-identity that drive purchase and loyalty.

 When it comes to analyzing a brand’s performance, it’s critical to look at the complete picture and account for the identity, emotional, and functional benefits it provides. For me, the functional benefits (e.g. keeps my feet dry during a Nor’easter) L.L. Bean provides me are undeniably important; however, the emotional and identity benefits ultimately rank higher.

 I can’t speak for every customer, but the move to end their Lifetime Return Policy won’t keep me from shopping at L.L. Bean. Yes, it’s a shame the retailer had to rescind its signature guarantee—one that underscores their commitment to the quality of their products. 

But, it’s a powerful lesson for brands in an increasingly disrupted age: the strength of the benefits you provide your customer—social, emotional, and functional—can mean the difference between weathering the storm and keeping and growing your customers.

Nicole Battaglia is a Sr. Associate Researcher who isn’t pleased she’s had to wear her Bean boots into April this year.

Topics: customer experience and loyalty, Identity, AffinID, emotion, BrandFx

Employee Appreciation: The Importance of Providing Emotional Benefits

Posted by Heather Magaw

Wed, Feb 28, 2018

collaborating-resized.jpg

An organization’s people are its most valuable assets.

And in today’s job competitive market, companies finding and retaining top talent need to go beyond “benefits” like ping-pong tables and yoga classes. These tangible perks look great, but on their own they won’t foster employee loyalty and motivate productivity.

A key to a corporate culture that inspires and motivates employees is ongoing appreciation—showing gratitude each and every day. Providing emotional benefits (e.g., feeling appreciated and valued) is one of the most important things a company can do for its employees—in addition to providing functional benefits (e.g., free lunches).

But identifying what employees truly value and what makes them feel appreciated can be challenging. It requires a thoughtful approach to understanding human behavior and acknowledging our intrinsic desire to be recognized, celebrated, and appreciated every day.

At CMB, we found that our employees feel more appreciated by intangible, personal gestures like:

  • Receiving an email of appreciation from a client
  • Finding a “thank you” post-it from a colleague stuck to the desk
  • Getting a handwritten thank you note in your company mailbox
  • Seeing an email of acknowledgement to a manager about an employee’s unique contribution

These small acts of kindness and appreciation can speak louder than a free lunch or Summer Fridays. They are thoughtful, meaningful, and make employees truly feel valued for the work they do.

Springing for a midafternoon ice cream party is a lot easier than encouraging busy colleagues to take the time to write personal notes. But, I challenge leadership teams to foster workplace environments that practice ongoing appreciation. As Stephen R. Covey once said, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”

In an upcoming webinar, join Erica Carranza, PhD., and learn how building meaningful connections promotes workplace satisfaction and productivity.

Register Now

Heather Magaw is VP, Client Services at CMB. She challenges each reader to write 5 emails or notes of appreciation on Friday, March 2, Employee Appreciation Day.

 

Topics: our people, emotional measurement, emotion

Sporting Brand Loyalty

Posted by Caitlin Dailey

Wed, May 24, 2017

american football-5.jpg

The Celtics (my personal favorite Boston team) are just hanging on by a thread after last night's loss against the Cavaliers. But despite the Celtics playoff buzz around Boston, some die-hard Patriots fans are still riding the high of Super Bowl LI. Case in point, a couple weeks ago I saw a SnapChat of a friend replaying the game on his DVR just to relive the glory.

I was also just in Atlanta for some focus groups and couldn’t help but smile when my cab driver proudly pointed out the new Falcons stadium—he didn’t know I was a New Englander. So, although it may seem unseasonable to talk about the Patriots in May, I need to take the opportunity to share that Super Bowl LI was the greatest comeback in history, and as it turns out, a chance to show off the power of always seasonable brand loyalty.

In the weeks leading up to the big game, I saw a lot of social media posts and articles predicting an underwhelming Super Bowl due to Atlanta’s small fanbase. They argued the game would be more exciting if we were playing the Dallas Cowboys, a team with much sexier brand appeal.  I’ll admit, we Pats fans can be a bit cocky, but can you blame us? Regardless, one pro-Pats article that ran in the Boston Globe led to a Falcons fan banning Boston-based Sam Adams in his Georgia convenience store until after the Super Bowl. That’s commitment!

Removing Sam Adams from the shelves of one convenience store for a few weeks didn’t have much impact on the brewery’s bottom line, but the store owner’s boycott is an example of the potential power of true brand loyalty. The convenience store owner demonstrated his loyalty to his team, the ban culminated in some playful banter between the two parties on Twitter, and as far as I know, Sam Adams is back on the shelves of that store. So while the stakes here were low, wouldn’t executives, at let’s say Pepsi or United Airlines, have benefitted from building the kind of loyalty this Falcons fan felt —something to help brands get through a PR crises?

There are many drivers of brand loyalty. Perhaps a brand makes its consumers feel a certain way, garnering the right emotions that keep them coming back for more. Maybe the brand sends the right message about the kind of person who uses its product/service, creating a sense of kinship among its customers. Or perhaps the brand is really good at creating meaningful customer experiences. It could also be as simple as “I love the New England Patriots (or Celtics!) because I grew up watching them".  Often it’s a combination of all these drivers.

Marketers are facing pressure to answer critical questions to help build loyalty. How is your brand answering the call? Is your brand conveying the right message? Do your customers feel valued enough to not jump ship? Is your loyalty programming compelling enough?

 Who’s doing it right, and who’s getting it wrong? Tell us in the comments.

Caitlin Dailey is a Project Manager for the Travel/Entertainment/Finance/Insurance practice. Outside of work she is a company dancer with DanceWorks Boston. She’s a true Boston sports fan, and the only Falcons she likes are from her alma mater, Bentley University!

 

 

Topics: customer experience and loyalty, AffinID, emotion