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Lightbox Loves

Lightbox Loves: Looking Back to the Future

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We are a nation of nostalgists. At least, this was our hypothesis when earlier this year we partnered with YouGov to conduct a piece of research into why the UK is so keen to spend our time looking back to the past, instead of ahead to the future. More importantly, we wanted to understand the specific cues, cultural symbols and behaviours which most represent our favourite decades, and get to grips with how advertisers could use these to their advantage. We recently launched the results of this study with lively and discussion filled panel events in Manchester and London.

Our latest whitepaper, ‘Nostalgia – is it what is used to be?’, has unearthed that 55% of Brits would rather go back to the past than travel ahead to the future, with a mere 28% desiring a quick fast forward. 9 in 10 Brits reminisce, and there is a cohort of misty eyed millennials who are almost always looking back fondly. This isn’t, however, always a past they were part of.

One of our most interesting findings was around the sheer scale of Fauxstalgia – where we dream and pine after a period within which we didn’t even live. For example, 58% of those who were positive about the 1950s weren’t even born then, and as such were perhaps more shielded from the social and political realities of living during that decade.

The 1990s was unanimously our favourite decade. Recent enough to be of relevance to many, but not associated with the global economic crisis that marred the noughties, it is most closely associated with Friends being on TV, and the advances in technology such as mobile phones and the internet. Standout mentions, however, for the Spice Girls and the battle of Britpop.

This desire to escape the present is unlikely to be short-lived. Dr Kate Stone once remarked “the future will look more like the past than the present” so perhaps we should be dusting off those record players, vintage fashions and bringing brand heritage to the fore.

Lightbox Loves: The Ambitionless Youth

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With the release of Foresight Factory’s report on the tribes of 2019, we have two new groups to examine. Tribe One, ‘The Hyper Quantifiers’, are commonly addressed by brands across sectors from tech to entertainment and indeed by any product that can help measure aspects of life. In an age of optimisation, they are the perfect subject for companies to cheer and engage as they strive to go better, faster, and more efficiently. They have become the go-to group for youth marketing. In the UK, however, the 16-34 market has a similar sized tribe (about 1 in 5); the self-described Ambitionless Youth.

This tribe consists of the 20% of under 35s who admit to lacking ambition. They might sound disengaged, negative or even nihilistic but this group is not lazy. The percentage desiring a shorter working week, and more leisure time is within 1% of with their more ambitious peers. In truth, they aren’t closed off to new experiences; with 84% feeling the need to learn more – just like their ambitious peers. Instead the phenomenon is, perhaps, a result of lesser faith in the link between work, satisfaction, and professional achievement. Ambitionless Youth are more prevalent in slowing or contracting economies, notably Japan and Brazil, with 47% and 35% of their youth ‘ambitionless’ respectively. In these states of macro-economic decline, the perceived link between unbridled hard work and professional achievement is further eroded.

To talk to this engaged but unambitious audience, brands need to understand the differentiation between ambition and passion. While the ambitious, as Deloitte’s John Hagel has observed, typically follow linear goals, with extrinsic motivations (money, status etc); the passionate will follow more diffuse goals, often at the expense of linear professional progression. While Hagel sees the passionate as useful for an organisation for the innovative thinking of which they are capable; for brands they represent an audience who are willing to invest time and emotional energy in products without needing to justify this with extrinsic reward. While Ambitionless Youth remain the minority, this 20% will find goal orientation alienating. This offers an open space for brands discussing a more immediate value exchange, or indeed more intrinsic and lateral goals.

Sources

https://www.foresightfactory.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Tribespotting.pdf

https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/employee-engagement/employee-passion-ambition.html

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas: Findings from the winter wave of The QT

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas: Findings from the winter wave of The QT

13 may be unlucky for some, but here at the7stars we’re thrilled to have launched our thirteenth wave of our proprietary consumer tracking study: The QT. This wave we’ve asked our usual core topics of consumer confidence, happiness, spending intentions and of course opinions on Brexit, but we’ve also branched out into holidays, climate change and eating out. All in a day’s work…

We’re less happy than we were in August

It may be no surprise, but happiness versus both last year, and August 2019, has seen a decline of 6%pts. Only 30% of Brits are happier, with the majority feeling no different. The trend in this measure is inextricably linked with comfort on disposable income, which is at the lowest it has been since tracking began.

Get ready for… an anti-climax.

In August 2019, 30% of Brits felt their biggest emotion towards Brexit was worry. This has eroded ever so slightly in the aftermath of the missed 31st October deadline, but it still remains our primary emotion, with 27% of Brits feeling worried. This is closely followed by the 25% who are simply bored of the whole debacle.

Are we, as a nation, eating our feelings?

This time round, we wanted to ask the nation their feelings towards eating out. Almost 3 in 4 (73%) said that they felt eating out should be a special occasion, not an everyday thing. This is perhaps linked to the sociable nature of a trip to a restaurant, with 64% agreeing that its more sociable than simply ordering a takeaway. Only 22% said they are dining out more than in the past, and this was most pronounced amongst 18-24s, for whom the figure rose to 42%. For this group however, there is stiff competition from the takeaway and delivery sector, as 61% agreed that takeaway food is getting better quality.

The importance of streaming earnest.

With November representing the much-heralded launch of Britbox, and Disney + also making a splash, we wanted to ask Brits their real priorities when it comes to choosing streaming services. Number one on their list? A good film selection of course! 22% of Brits cited this as the most important factor, with exclusive celebrities/actors only important for 1%.

We’ve got that festive feeling…but are we alone?

It wouldn’t be a November wave of The QT without some questions about Christmas! 1 in 3 Brits claim that Christmas doesn’t start until December, which is a significant increase versus the last time we asked in 2017. However, the likes of John Lewis and Coca-Cola needn’t fear, festive advertising still marks the start of the season for 17% of Brits.

Keep an eye on @the7stars on twitter for more nuggets from this wave of the QT.

To find out more on any of these topics, or ask for more information please email lightbox@the7stars.co.uk

 

Lightbox Loves: Christmas Adverts

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There are several clear themes coming out of the Christmas campaigns this year. Some have focussed on their brands’ own cultural heritage, whilst others connect with popular cultural from the year. Brands that have focussed on their product offering tend to showcase the breadth of their range, whereas others choose instead to entertain with their own Christmas stories. However, are these campaigns as big a marker of the Christmas festivities as they use to be, or has their heyday been and gone?

Leading the way on the focus into cultural heritage is Dogs Trust, which in an emotional advert reminds the viewer that “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas,” a phrase the charity coined itself back in 1978. Sainsbury’s takes the viewer back 150 years in its Christmas story, which builds on activity across the year celebrating its 150 anniversary. Playing on a more recent cultural heritage, Argos celebrates their “Book of Dreams”, drawing on the nostalgia of circling your ideal gift in their catalogue and dreaming about what it would be like to get it.

Iceland’s partnership with Disney’s Frozen 2 anticipates what is likely to be the most popular film over the festive season, with an ad that sees Olaf experiencing a traditional British Christmas. Aldi have also chosen to reference popular culture in their ad this year, with a scene reminiscent of Peaky Blinders and The Greatest Showman, whilst Ikea chose to use Grime music to tell their Christmas message.

John Lewis have once again created an advert around an original Christmas story. This time we meet Edgar an excitable dragon who keeps accidentally breathing fire and melting or burning all the enjoyable parts of the festive season. Asda have also created a unique story about a girl spreading Christmas magic around her home town. These adverts, although not directly linked to the brands offering, provide entertainment in themselves.

Many of these brands are utilising products to keep the association with their Christmas adverts alive at the point of sale. John Lewis has a range of Excitable Edgar products and Iceland have Frozen 2 themed products in-store, which as well as a food range, includes a life size Olaf toy and the charades game which is played in the advert. More than ever, Christmas is allowing brands to step outside of the box with their creative and tell a different message to the rest of the year.

However, public interest in the Christmas ad race does appear to be in decline; Google searches for Christmas ads peaked in 2016 and social sharing is down year on year. The #BusterTheBoxer John Lewis campaign had a net sentiment score of 33%, vs 22% for #ExcitableEdgar. the7stars QT report also noted a decline in those saying that notable Christmas ads defined the start of the season for them.

This could be why more brands, such as Boots, Debenhams and TK Maxx are going purely product focused this year, emphasising the breadth of their range and the ability to be a one-stop-shop for presents. M&S have taken this product centricity one step further by only showcasing a single product: Christmas jumpers, with 50 different ones from their range featured in the advert.

Although Christmas is still a time to for brands to get creative, this may not be translating into as much social chatter as in previous years.

 

Sources:

Brandwatch, November 2019

Talkin’ about a new generation – the7stars Whitepaper

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Download our free whitepaper on the youth in the UK

 

Lightbox Loves: A fairer value exchange in online advertising?

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Consumers are becoming aware of how valuable their personal data is to advertisers. While many are open to a fair data exchange, this does not mean that they are altogether resistant to sharing their information. However, with around 43% of 18-24-year-olds using adblockers in the UK, it’s clear that brands need to find new ways to improve the online advertising experience to regain this audience’s attention.

Two brands that appear to understand this value exchange are Brave and Pick My Postcode!

Brave is a privacy-centred browser that is looking to transform the relationship between advertisers and consumers. Their adverting platform, Brave Ads, is an opt-in system that is designed to reward consumers for their attention; they claim that ads viewed through their platform have a click-through rate of 14%, compared to the industry average of 2%.

So, how does it work? When a user actives Brave Ads, Brave looks at their browsing history to privately match them to an appropriate advert. Brave then pays the user 70% of their revenue ad share in the form of a Basic Attention Token (BAT). The BAT token is a cryptocurrency that can be exchanged between advertisers, publishers and consumers. Consumers can use the BAT that they’ve earned to anonymously donate to their favourite publishers –YouTube, Twitter, or website content creators.

Pick My Postcode! is another brand that is offering consumers ads in exchange for the chance to win daily cash prizes. They’ve also gone one step further, allowing brands to survey their community for the same tangible rewards. Could these be the alternative experience consumers have been waiting for?

However, there are some questions surrounding their effectiveness. How can these sites be sure that users are actually paying attention to the ads, and not using their platform to just receive rewards? Will this be enough of an economic incentive to encourage more users to the platform?

Regardless of whether you’re impressed by these innovations or not, through rewarding consumers for their attention, respecting their privacy and only showing them relevant adverts, there is the potential to radically improve the relationship between consumers, publishers, and advertisers.

Data as Currency, Foresight Factory, October 2018

Online advertising in the UK, DCMS, January 2019

Brave.com

Brave Browser wants to pay you to view ads but there’s a catch, PC Mag, January 2019

Picture Johan Viirok – Hacking

 

 

Lightbox Loves: Pride & Patriotism

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In today’s culture, patriotism is waning. In particular, young people aged 18-24 are far less likely than their 60+ counterparts to feel very patriotic. In this particularly divided Brexit Britain, there has been much debate on what it means to be British, and according to YouGov data, a fifth of Brits claim that they would be ashamed of their national pride if it were to be aired in public.  So, while British pride is on the decline, how, when and why should brands capitalise on peak moments of nationalism?

The Football World Cup in 2018, and the London Olympics have been the most expressed occasions where Brits feel comfortable expressing their patriotic side, particularly with England’s advance to the quarter finals last year. This past weekend marked England making it to the Rugby World Cup finals, a feat last achieved in 2007 after defeating New Zealand in the semi finals, so hopes were high for England fans.

Many brands advertised around the love of the game, such as Land Rover’s ‘It’s what makes rugby, rugby’ ad, and Guinness’s ‘Liberty Fields’ ad championing Japanese women’s rugby as pioneers. These ads have heroed the game itself, whereas O2, the primary sponsors of the England Rugby team, have consistently framed their advertising around the iconic #WearTheRose campaign, this year encouraging the nation to support the team by ‘being their armour’ and wearing what the CMO of O2 has called “the symbol that represents the very heart of England”.

In an effort to appeal to the masses, it appears as though more brands have placed focus on the sport itself versus the emotions towards the sport and the sense of pride in one’s nation. Studies have found that when consumers have heightened levels of patriotism this positively influences their attitude towards patriotic advertising and towards the brand in question, particularly in the context of international sporting events. And so, sport sponsorships might be a great way of getting mass reach, but they are also a highly effective platform in connecting to consumers over love for their country, particularly for brands where ‘Britishness’ is at their core. With the next Olympics & Paralympics coming up in 2020, how can British brands get involved?

https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2015/07/14/decline-british-patriotism

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/patriotism-uk-national-pride-ridicule-abuse-racism-xenophobia-prejudice-a8312786.html

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/09/18/o2-calls-upon-england-fans-be-its-samurai-armour-ahead-rugby-world-cup

https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-344154942/consumer-patriotism-and-response-to-patriotic-advertising

Lightbox Loves: A Reason to Celebrate

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We have become a nation of celebration. As Hallowe’en related paraphernalia appeared across social feeds, TV ads, supermarket shelves and popular culture as early as August, it would appear that Brits (or at least brands) are looking to elongate the festivities as much as possible.

A phenomenon long attributed to the Christmas period, apparently now no holiday is safe. We asked 500 Brits via our Lightbox Pulse platform their thoughts, and 57% said they felt that holidays start too early, and 27% claiming they last too long. On the whole, this sentiment was strongest amongst 35-64s, which perhaps interplays with the likelihood of having bigger families of children and grandchildren to buy for.

This elongation of celebration is a trend which runs hand in hand with the increasing desire to make a fuss of ever more granular life events. 60% of Brits said that we find more reasons to celebrate these days, with only a miserly 19% disagreeing. Women are the most likely be in touch with this – perhaps because they’re often lumbered with (or secretly revel in) the job of buying the accompanying cards, presents and decorations? This is of course why retailers and brands are happy to encourage us to celebrate more. Everything from alcohol to baked goods gets a boost when we party, and comms are given a renewed focus and some new news to push out.

So, what exactly do Brits feel is worth celebrating? We asked our panel, and whilst the usual offenders (engagement parties, christenings and university graduation) all came out strongly, 1 in 10 said a divorce was worthy of a party, and 8% are on board the Gender Reveal bandwagon.

It doesn’t seem like a high proportion, but if you look at the search trends for Gender Reveal parties over the past 5 years you start to get a glimpse of the momentum behind the movement.

Ultimately, a celebration sits in the Cambridge Dictionary as “a special social event, such as a party, when you celebrate something.” Are we losing the notion of ‘special’ when the parties start to dominate our diaries? There are 14.5m posts on Instagram under #celebrate, and a staggering 160m under #party. It would seem you can have a party without a celebration, but you can’t celebrate these days without a party.

Lightbox Loves: The impact of the influencer

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In an age where social media is the most popular commercial media channel for 16-34s, brands are faced with the question of how best to utilise this virtual shop window. Working with content creators themselves and ‘Insta celebs’ seems the obvious solution; however online influencing takes many shapes and sizes and will become even more difficult to navigate as Instagram introduces hidden likes. With the disappearance of familiar visible metrics, there may be an uncertainty over the tangible reach and engagement that individual influencers can offer.

Lia Haberman, formerly VP Audience Development at Livestrong, predicts “this will likely increase the amount of ads as brands look for more exposure and make it difficult for anyone but established influencers to get a foot-hold.” Brands that have worked with Mrs Hinch, the UK’s biggest ‘cleanfluencer’ with over 2.5 million followers, attribute significant results to this macro influencer; Unilever claims that the sales of Cif Stainless Steel have grown by two thirds following Mrs Hinch’s backing.

Some influencers have such large followings that they don’t need to associate themselves with other brands, but instead can sell their own products to a ready-made audience. As a result of the online following she has built, influencer Grace Beverley, has been able to extend her own personal brand out into not one, but two companies (TALA sustainable activewear and B_ND vegan gym equipment).

From seeing these results, it comes as no surprise that consumers are more open to being sold products by their favourite personalities. Our quarterly proprietary tracker, the QT, revealed that 62% of 18-24s prefer product placement over traditional ads, with 24% even enjoying social influencers’ recommendations. Although it seems there is a mediator: authenticity. The absence of which prevents transfer of trust for influencer to brand. Perhaps this is where the micro influencer (someone with a 10k to 100k following) shines – working on partnerships with brands who can benefit from this intimacy that accompanies a loyal following of friends and family. The likes of Glossier have grown their brands in this way.

For influencers, it is important to pick partners with which they genuinely identify, to keep their relationship with followers authentic. For brands, it is a question of which growth strategy is best for them: mass exposure from association with a big name or loyal customers from an influencer with a smaller, yet potentially more engaged, audience.

(1) https://ipa.co.uk/media/7936/touchpoints_facebookreport_2018-digital.pdf

(2) https://later.com/blog/hidden-likes-instagram/

(3) The rise of micro-influencers and why they are important, WARC February 2019

(4) https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/trend-reports/mrs-hinch-how-cleanfluencers-are-transforming-household-/592609.article

State of the Nation: The latest findings from The QT

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State of the Nation: The latest findings from The QT

There are 12 days of Christmas, 12 eggs in a dozen, and now 12 waves of the QT! For this wave we’ve looked into the nation’s feelings on Brexit in a post-Boris-as-PM world, attitudes to sustainability after the move by Zara to shed their ‘fast fashion’ tag, and into whether Brits really *get* product placement. Read on for more…

Young people are having a whale of a time!

National happiness is a few percentage points higher than in May 2019, but it is the young who are really feeling their oats. 64% of 18-24s feel happier than they did in May 2018, and this is in stark contrast to the 65+, for whom this figure falls to a mere 22%. Youthful joy, however, doesn’t mean that we have a miserly ageing population. Instead, a higher proportion of this group feel more settled, with 51% citing no difference in their happiness versus last year.

Brexit means…WORRY.

In May 2019, we reported that for the very first time since the Referendum, boredom had become the overriding emotion felt by Brits. In the wake of Theresa stepping down, a leadership contest and the new Prime Minister’s vow to take us out of the EU come what may, this has turned to worry. 30% of Brits feel their biggest emotion towards our impending exit from Europe is worry, with only 6% saying they’re happy.

No surprises on the regional skews here, with key Remain areas of London and Scotland scoring higher for the negative emotions, but Leave strongholds such as the North East still retaining their unwavering optimism.

It can be cheap, fast or quality, but you can’t have all three.

We asked the UK to give us their real priorities when it comes to purchase decisions, asking them to trade off sustainability for other factors every time.

Convenience, quality materials, durability, fair wages for workers, not being tested on animals, and function all won out over sustainability. The only factors to be beaten by it were local production, high fashion/on trend, and brand reputation.

Interestingly, the trade-off between cost effectiveness and sustainable production was more difficult than many other criteria. 37% of Brits picked sustainability over cost, compared with 44% choosing cost. These figures skewed more in favour of cost the younger the consumer was, with 51% of 18-24s choosing this factor. It flies in the face of increasing coverage of Gen Z being the foremost campaigners when it comes to the environment, but lands us with the reality that their ethics may not yet meet their purchasing power.

How much is that product in the TV show? The one with the visible can…

If you didn’t sing the above headline to the tune of that doggy in the window, then we’re disappointed. Back on topic though, we were inspired by conversations around the recent series of Stranger Things, and Love Island, to find out exactly how Brits feel about product placement in their favourite series and movies.

The first thing we noted, was that for just under half, they’d prefer more of it, than traditional ad breaks! 48% of Brits felt this way, with a similar proportion (50%) feeling that product placements are good if relevant to show content. Indeed, that seems to be the biggest word of warning for brands. Almost 4 in 5 said that the activity mustn’t distract from the narrative of the show or movie, and its not a surprise when you consider over a quarter said that they sometimes distract them from the show itself.

Keep an eye on @the7stars on twitter for more nuggets from this wave of the QT.

To find out more on any of these topics, or ask for more information please email lightbox@the7stars.co.uk