Lightbox Loves

Lightbox Loves: Autumn Confidence

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With a collision of events this September – from back-to-school, returns to the office and some late Summer sun – opportunities to spend combined with a positive mindset are resulting in renewed levels of consumer confidence.

At the start of 2021, household savings were at the second highest level on record, with  £190 bn saved during lockdowns. Following a year of restrictions, consumers have been biding their time since early in the year to find their moments to splurge. Intentions to spend on non-essential items have seen a significant increase since June.  In our August edition of the QT, we also found happiness levels are at an all-time high, reflective of the return to more regular social habits and routines. The UK is a social nation – with 21% of consumer spending ordinarily dedicated to ‘socially consumed services’ (such as eating out, leisure activities and holidays). With these activities being stifled during lockdown, people have jumped at the chance to make up for lost time.

Brits are revelling in the new found ability to plan ahead. 87% of people agree that having a holiday planned gives them something to look forward to, and our August QT results echo this sentiment, with 25% intending to spend more money on travel in the next 12 months – almost doubling in sentiment since June.

Brits are also looking for more ways to live, and spend, ‘in the now’.  With an ever-increasing awareness of wellbeing and self-care, there has been an influence on the role for self-gifting. Fatigued from deferred gratification during lockdown, more consumers are turning to little luxuries – whether it’s an ad hoc treat or a regular self-gifted subscription. Additionally, consumers are building anticipation for a big spending opportunity this Christmas, with 1 in 3 planning to start shopping earlier this year and a further 30% planning to spend more money overall on Christmas this year.

These positive signs present many opportunities for brands.  Whether it’s being the antidote to the mundanity that has been too prevalent in recent times, providing an upgrade moment to a spending occasion, or helping people to purchase now for future plans.  Capitalising on the current levels of confidence and joy will be key to capturing consumers wallets this Autumn.

– Rachel Coyle

(Source: the7stars QT, Canvas8, The Times, the7stars Christmas Trends 2021)


Lightbox Loves: Christmas Shopping in the Summer

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Is August too early to be talking about Christmas? A quarter of Brits don’t think so. 25% of shoppers turn their attention to planning Christmas shopping by the end of the Summer, with August seeing the volume of Christmas related Google searches double month on month. The early opportunity in this time varies by industry and audience but if consumers are thinking about Christmas, so should brands and retailers.

eBay reported that sporting goods, as well as toys and games, are the two categories of gifts that start seeing the earliest research, with electronics and clothing shopping peaking later potentially due to the timing of the mega-sales period around Black Friday. With 13% of adults (7 million people) planning to splash out more than normal this Christmas, there is an increased revenue opportunity from gifting than previous years. This makes it beneficial for brands to speak to the audience that gift their products when they begin their research.

With newly formed shopping habits emerging over the last 18 months, marketing teams will not only want to think about who is shopping for their products as gifts, but where they will be shopping. the7stars quarterly tracking study found that Brits plan to shop online more than previously for media products (books, music, games etc.), clothes and electronics, whilst grocery and beauty are more likely to be shopped in store. The increased intent to shop online is being driven in most categories by those aged 35 and over, mirroring where the growth in online shopping came from during the pandemic.

Regardless of whether you’re a Christmas fanatic or a more of a scrooge, the marked increase in intent and research that is being seen this Summer means it’s certainly not too early for brands to be implementing plans to gain the attention of shoppers this coming holiday season.

– Ben Lovett



Googe Trends

The7stars QT August

Lightbox Loves: Putting the Life Back into Nightlife

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When pubs re-opened earlier this year, the UK shed a layer of pandemic stress and got to let loose a little. We saw a slew of ad campaigns around the occasion, including work from Guinness, Tesco and Young’s that reflected our feelings of relief and joy. By contrast, the re-opening of nightclubs has felt lack-luster with comparatively few brands making an *ahem* song-and-dance of the occasion. After its months-long hiatus, has nightlife lost some of its shine?

Perhaps the worry and confusion over Covid-19 safety rules diminished the re-opening excitement. The7stars’ Lightbox Lowdown found that two thirds of 16-34 year-olds aren’t planning on visiting a nightclub anytime soon, and a third of those say it’s because the risk still feels too high. Stronger safety measures will be in place by the end of September though, with all club entrants needing to have had two jabs. Nightclubs like Ministry of Sound are lending a hand by promoting vaccines through their own channels and venues, and London’s Heaven nightclub hosted a temporary vaccine site this month.

Even as the vaccine roll-out progresses, some people feel their clubbing days are numbered. Lightbox Lowdown also found that a third of those 16-34s who will be staying away from clubs say it’s because they have simply outgrown them. Perhaps newfound pandemic hobbies that place a greater emphasis on mental health and well-being will continue to take priority; Research from Draper Tools found that half of 18-34s would rather visit a garden centre than a nightclub.

For the dedicated ravers and clubbers though, the return of nightlife has been a joyous occasion and an opportunity to come back stronger than ever. Nightlife, like all areas of society, underwent some serious self-reflection over the course of the pandemic. Increased conversation around anti-sexual harassment led to the Change the Line Up campaign against the harassment of women in nightclubs, spearheaded by London-based creatives Tom Snell and Dylan Hartigan. They created 90s rave-style posters for an OOH campaign to coincide with the club re-opening.

The nightlife scene also emerged from the pandemic with a strengthened sense of community as artists, venues, fans and brands coalesced to support each other. During lockdown, Defected Records hosted a virtual festival with live music streamed from Ministry of Sound, and created online content with DJs and artists, like Spotify playlists and social media activations. Brands got involved too, with Jägermeister launching its Meister Drop-In initiative, which allowed fans to book nightlife talent for their virtual events. They also created the Best Nights street wear collection, with proceeds going to help artists through United We Stream.

Brand-led initiatives like these will continue to be important as the nightlife industry rebuilds itself, and brands who can lend a genuine helping hand will build authenticity and trust among passionate fans.

Sources: Lightbox Lowdown, Canvas8, Hypebeast, The Drum, The Guardian, Defected Records

Lightbox Loves: The Greatest Show on Earth

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With the Olympics now well under way after a bruising finish to the UEFA Euro 2020 Final, we just can’t seem to get enough sport this summer – or can we? Despite Team GB coming 2nd in the 2016 medal table – above China, Russia and Germany – the7stars’ Lightbox Lowdown found that 2 in 5 people say they are less excited about the Olympics this year compared to the previous games. Preliminary UK viewing figures for the Summer Games have then slumped, with the first two days of BBC coverage down a whopping 68% (BARB).

Nevertheless, there are several positive stories emerging that remind us of the Olympics’ unparalleled ability to bring people together and to boost worldwide interest in sport and morale – of why it is indeed, the greatest show on earth.

One of these of course being the string of gold medals for Team GB, which may yet reignite the nation’s interest in this year’s tournament. Tom Daley’s win (not forgetting diving partner Matty Lee!) is a timely reminder that Britain’s current and future sporting champions and role models are diverse, empathetic, and outspoken. Beamed live to Chinese and Russian audiences (both countries where same-sex marriage is illegal), Daley spoke about his achievement as a gay man, and emboldened young LGBTQ+ people to be proud of who they are – and that they can achieve anything.

There have also been several inspiring brand activations which have championed sentiments that chime closely with Daley’s uplifting message. Channel 4’s “Super. Human” campaign for the Paralympic Games explores the daily trials and tribulations of Paralympians pursuing their dreams of being crowned Paralympic champions – with a focus on the ‘human’ aspect opposed to the ‘super’ aspect. Another is from the Olympic’s very own International Olympic Committee, which released a short film titled “What Agnes Saw”, the story of the oldest-living Olympian Agnes Keleti. Before her eyes we see the world and humanity develop, before closing with an image of the youngest-ever British Olympian, skateboarder Sky Brown, reminding us of the moments of joy, hope and inspiration that occur when the world comes together for the Games.

With the Olympics yet to finish and the Paralympics due to start later this month, brands can still connect with audiences that are looking for joy and togetherness by taking note of the inclusive and empathetic behaviours demonstrated not just by brands, but by our very own champions too.

– Ewan Goode

Sources: BARB, Lightbox Lowdown

Lightbox Loves: The New Football Fans

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Earlier this year we heard from Real Madrid president Florentino Perez that ‘young people are no longer interested in football’. From the social media backlash that followed, it became obvious that he couldn’t have been more wrong and incidentally, the European Super League that he was helping to set up disastrously failed. Clearly, there’s an appetite for football among this new generation of fans, but not everyone is hitting the mark on how to talk to them about it.

To understand what excites Gen Z about the sport, we turned to social media (their favourite media channel after all). The England team’s youngest players were the most talked about during the Euro 2020, with 21-year-old Jadon Sancho topping their list. Jack Grealish was also among the most mentioned, with his Tiktok antics at least partially responsible. One Twitter user joked that ‘I’m on jack grealish x chase atlantic tiktok this is the most serotonin I’ve felt in my LIFE’. Interestingly, Harry Kane had the most negative mentions of all the players – perhaps because at the ripe age of 27, he feels less relevant to under-25s.

Unsurprisingly, Gen Z voices were strong among those who defended the England team’s young black players against racist outbursts after the final match. One Twitter user posted: ‘I love Marcus Rashford for everything he has done for this country.’ Gen Z were also keen to defend LGBTQ rights when UEFA prevented the German team from lighting up their stadium in rainbow colours. One young fan Tweeted, ‘Football will always be tied into politics, and I think Munich should do it anyway as a big f*** you to the Hungarian government and UEFA.’

Clearly, engaging Gen Z means tapping into their empathy, and their empathy and interest are even higher when they see their own generation being represented. Nike did particularly well with  their ‘The Land of New Football’ advert, with messages of inclusion, diversity and 23-year-old Marcus Rashford as the campaign star. Irn-Bru also cleverly tapped into Gen Z’s experiences with their Euro advert, which played on the awkwardness of ‘first times’, a feeling that would hit close to home for many. BT’s Euro campaign revolved around combatting online hate, an issue which affects 1 in 3 Gen Zs according to the7stars’ research.

Understanding how to speak to Gen Z will not only ensure that campaign messages land and drive awareness, but also potentially create valuable brand advocates. As we’ve seen from their vocal reactions to issues raised during the Euros, brands who can tap into Gen Z’s empathy will be able to drive them to take real actions.

– the7stars

Sources:, Brandwatch, AtoGenZ.

Lightbox Loves: Dedication to the Beautiful Game

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2021 has seen the long-awaited return of live sport after the cancellation of major tournaments, such as the Olympics and the UEFA Euros, due to the pandemic last year. England football fans celebrated the victory of their biggest match of the tournament so far this week against Germany and with the quarter finals on the horizon capturing the attention of these passionate football fans is going beyond mid game advertising, with multi screening set to reach a peak with the Euros drawing in unprecedented TV, online and social engagement.

In a study carried out by Mediaocean, they showed that 19% of sports fans globally follow the Euros (40% in Europe). Whilst this is 23% lower than the audience share that the Olympics attracts globally, Mediaocean emphasises how it is the importance the level of commitment and passion that is shown by these football lovers in comparison to the Olympics.

For starters, they are 61% more likely to watch sports online everyday than the average sports fan where Olympics watchers are only 21% more likely to do so. The nature and intensity of football also extends to the way that fans interact with the sport. Euros followers are 44% more likely than the average sports fan to follow teams and players on social media and furthermore 54% more likely to the listen to sports radio and podcasts. Again, this considerably higher than that of those who are fans of the Olympics.

With matches taking place across Europe with much reduced crowds, the rise of multiscreen also plays a huge part, with 61% of Euro fans saying that they use social media and browse the internet whilst watching the games, making them 20% more likely than general sports fans to engage with social and online advertising whilst the sport is being played out.

This also highlights the strong community feel that the sport and the tournament generates, especially with fans at home they are turning to digital and social media to enhance their experience of live games, with fans 40% more likely to message people during matches. This is where major social network platforms come into play, with the likes of WhatApp, Facebook, Youtube and new player Tiktok being used as a form of communication and to create a sense of unity, with WhatApp and Facebook Messenger now among the top 5 social platforms for audiences that follow the tournament.

The7stars’ research demonstrates the scale of the social conversation: since the 1st of June, there have been more than 250,000 social mentions of the tournament, discussed by over 110,000 unique authors. Given the ups and downs of the tournament, 1 in 3 posts has a ‘joyful’ sentiment while 1 in 5 is ‘sad’, showing this is a space where brands can tap into consumers’ emotions.

The key takeaway here is that the tournament is and will continue to spread its influence well beyond the allotted time of the matches themselves, offering brands a variety of ways to get involved in the conversation.

– Connie Dillon


Brandwatch social listening data

Lightbox Loves: The One With All the Sitcoms

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On the 27th of May, after years of speculation, the “Friends Reunion” finally aired on Sky. It has been seventeen years since the final episode which saw the coffee-loving friends move out of their New York apartments after ten seasons, 236 episodes, Ross’ three failed marriages and one iconic couch. Recorded in April, the one and three-quarter hour special saw the cast reunited to take a trip down memory lane, revisiting the characters’ old haunts and recreating classic scenes. For one night only, Monica, Rachel, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe and Ross were back.

The Reunion, watched by an estimated 29% of U.S. streaming households on the first day, demonstrates how enduringly popular the show is: HBO reportedly paid $425 million for the sitcom in 2019 and it is regularly voted one of the most loved of all time.

It’s a stalwart of popular culture. To mark the show’s 25th anniversary in 2019, Lego launched a 1,079-piece collectible set including pieces to build a miniature Central Perk, Ralph Lauren advertised a Rachel Green-inspired collection and US furniture company Pottery Barn recreated the infamous apothecary table. Experiential installations were constructed across the globe; Primark, for example, installed its own Central Perk in Manchester. Even Google demonstrated its enthusiasm with Friends-related Search results throwing up interactive graphics (a search for Ross, for instance, caused all the results to “pivot”!).

“Friends” is not alone in inspiring such terrific levels of nostalgia. The return of “Gavin and Stacey” in 2019 for a Christmas Day special was watched by 11.6 million people, becoming the biggest festive ratings success in over a decade. Meanwhile, it was announced in April that popular comedy “How I Met Your Mother”, which ran from 2005 until 2014, is getting a reboot. This nostalgia seems to have reached its zenith during Lockdown: “The Office US”, for instance, was Netflix’s most streamed series last year.

In 2019, the7stars’ Nostalgia Report found that most Brits (90%) spend at least some time thinking fondly about the way things used to be, with the 90s, the decade “Friends” was first broadcasted, thought of most warmly. Brands who ride the wave of this nostalgia reap the rewards. Foxy Bingo, for example, was the only gaming brand to see year-on-year improvements to consideration, up 19% (May20), when it sponsored “Friends” on Channel 5.

The recent audience figures suggest that fondness for the past has only increased over the pandemic with viewers seeking comfort in re-runs of sitcoms. Brands can harness this nostalgia by aligning with well-loved comedy shows that offer consumers a shortcut to something familiar and fun amidst such uncertainty. Despite Courtney Cox crying “it’s not like we will do a reunion in another fifteen years,” only time will tell how durable our love for the sitcom will be.

– Emily Blatchford


Lightbox Loves: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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In 1943, the American psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his theory of The Hierarchy of Needs, a theory that is still relevant to understanding human behaviour today. In this theory, he shows that humans have different levels of needs that motivate them throughout life. Tapping into these different need states can help brands meet the right consumers with the right message at the right time.

In its most simplistic version, Maslow’s Hierarchy splits into five levels, each one needing to be met before a person can go on to meet the next. Level one is based on our physiology – the need for food, water, sleep and warmth. Level two is the need for safety, which includes shelter, financial and job security, and health. Next, psychological needs are introduced. The third level includes belongingness and love needs, such as creating social connections with friends, family and romantic partners. The next level up outlines esteem needs: the need to feel important, respected, purposeful or accomplished. The final level of human needs is for self-fulfillment. This includes any creative activities and, unlike with other levels, the motivation to meet this need only ever increases, even once this level is achieved.

Brands can effectively reach their audiences by feeding into multiple consumer need states. For example, Lidl’s price comparison campaigns tap into both the basic physiological need for food and the need for security of finance by demonstrating lower prices than competitors. On the other end of the hierarchy, Tesco’s “Food Love Stories” campaign focuses on the importance of food shared with others, tapping into level three and our need for social connections with friends and family. Understanding where a brand or product sits within these levels of needs can help to frame benefits for the chosen target audience.

the7stars’ Joydex tool can help to identify when a consumer might be most receptive to messaging around a particular need state. Using IPA TouchPoints data, the Joydex maps emotions over the course of a week, helping to pinpoint times of day when consumers are most happy, stressed, relaxed or feeling a whole range of other emotions. When a consumer is feeling stressed, messaging around basic comforts and securities might be more relevant, whereas in moments of happiness they may be more open to messaging around esteem or self-fulfillment needs. Paying attention to the context and mindset in which marketing messages reach consumers will ensure that they cut through the noise in a cluttered media landscape and land in a way that resonates with individuals.

– Katie Gebbie



Lightbox Loves: The Video Revolution

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Time spent in lockdown has rapidly increased consumers’ need to be entertained; last February, the7stars’ quarterly consumer tracking report showed that nearly half of Brits increased their consumption of video streaming services since going into lockdown the previous November. The shift to more time spent in on-demand streaming platforms has sparked major developments in in-app video usage.

In 2021, TikTok took the number one spot in being the first app that 13-19-year-olds open, with the primary reason being to “find entertaining content” (YPulse, 2021). This emphasis on watching video content differs greatly from previous years, where Facebook ranked the highest amongst these age groups for keeping in touch with friends and family.

Besides growing in importance to users, video platforms are also retaining their users for longer throughout the day. A recent study revealed that total viewing in 2019 averaged 84 minutes. It is estimated that this figure has since seen a 19% increase with the average person now predicted to spend 100 minutes every day watching online videos this year.

Platforms, as well as behaviours, are evolving. Since the fast growth of TikTok and short-form video, both Snapchat and Instagram have entered long-form video territory by testing ads in Spotlight and Reels​. Even Netflix has borrowed the TikTok format by trialling their ‘fast laughs’ product​ in a bid to give their users more ‘on-the-go’ content as short as 15 seconds.

As video continues to grow, it’s crucial to stay on top of the latest trends in order to create the best strategies for your brand. Video’s popularity also goes hand-in-hand with users’ expectation for brands to engage with them through this format, as studies show that 54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support (Hubsport, 2018). Brands who stay on top of the latest trends and formats will therefore reap the rewards.

– Emilie Flanders


The QT, the7stars proprietary consumer tracking study​, February 2021

Video marketing statistics to know for 2020 | Smart Insights

How Video Consumption is Changing in 2021 [New Research] (

The First Social Platforms Gen Z & Millennials Open When They’re Bored – YPulse

Online video viewing to reach 100 minutes a day in 2021 – Zenith (