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BCMA publishes branded content attitudinal consumer study

The Branded Content Marketing Association (BCMA) has revealed its first in-depth study into consumer attitudes towards branded content working in conjunction with branded content specialist agency contentworx.

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The survey covered several related areas particularly taking account of how consumers view different types of promotion, e.g. traditional advertising formats vs new innovative formats, such as branded content. It also looked to understand how consumers reacted to these different types of advertising formats, whether brands conveyed integrity, social responsibility and trust.

The BCMA believes that there was a need to ask these ‘milestone’ questions to establish a benchmark level for branded content activity. This will form the basis of any on-going measures to initiate trend data for the sector in the future and to understand how attitudes towards advertising are rapidly changing.

The study focused mainly on those brands that had already been active in producing branded content campaigns. They were asked whether people were aware of this activity and whether they had engaged with the brand on that basis. Following this they were asked whether they preferred the company to undertake this type of activity compared to traditional advertising.

Finally, they were also asked what was important to them when thinking of buying products or services from different types of companies. Was it important that the company was honest and ethical? Did it matter that they were environmentally conscious? Should they be entertaining or exciting? Did they need to be efficient or price conscious?

According to the authors, the study has given some fascinating insights into several key challenges brands are facing now and is further evidence of how innovative forms of advertising, such as branded content are becoming more effective in influencing consumer attitudes towards brands and ultimately their purchasing decision of those brands.

The on-line survey of 60,000 adults aged 18+, one of the largest commercial surveys ever undertaken, took place between November 2006 and February 2007.

The key findings:

  • Over one-third of certain groups were sceptical about brands that advertised regularly in a traditional way
  • Only around one-tenth trusted brands that advertised in a traditional wayOrange Wednesdays, Tesco Race for Life, PepsiMax Download Show and Carling Live scored highest in terms of awareness and generally in terms of participation
  • Heinz Dinner Doctors, Bupa Health Show, B&Q DIY Show, BMW Films and Nokia Fashion House scored lowest
  • Waitrose and Sainsbury branded customer magazines scored highly for both awareness and participation
  • In the vast majority of cases consumers preferred the more innovative approach compared with traditional advertising
  • When buying products or services, consumers felt that it was most important that companies were efficient or price conscious 
  • In most cases it was deemed important for companies to be environmentally conscious

The study set out to establish consumer’s attitude towards brands that advertise regularly in traditional ways giving them the example of TV commercials. They were given five predetermined statements; I am sceptical about the brands (27% agreeing), I do not believe what they are saying (19%), I believe the brand has integrity (18%), I believe the brand has social responsibility (15%) and I trust the brand (12%).

Overall, 27% said that they were sceptical about the brands, rising to 31% for all male respondents. It was interesting, but perhaps unsurprising to see that the highest levels of scepticism were evident amongst the male 65+ age group (40%).

In general the lowest levels of trust for the brands were seen in the 55-64 age groups (8%). With regards to social responsibility for brands there was a higher response from the female groups.

For each specific piece of branded content activity, we asked the panel if they had Heard of the campaign and then we asked whether they had Participated with/ Viewed/Read/Listened to the campaign.

The branded content activity we surveyed included Audi TV, BMW Films, Orange Wednesdays, Tesco Race for Life, PepsiMax Download Show (C4), Guardian Sports Show (C4), Gillette World of Sport (Sky), Red Bull Flugtag, Carling Music Events, Bupa Health Show (ITV), B&Q DIY Show (ITV), Heinz Dinner Doctors (five), Nokia Fashion House (C4), Waitrose/Sainsbury customer Magazines, O2 Wireless Festival and Dove Real Beauty Campaign.

There were wide ranging awareness levels of branded content activity, the lowest Heard of… level being 6% for Heinz Dinner Doctors followed by BMW Films (7%), Nokia Fashion House (7%), Bupa Health Show (13%), B&Q DIY Show (14%), Guardian Sports Show (15%), Audi TV (16%) and O2 Wireless Festival (21%).

The highest awareness recorded was 47% for Tesco Race for Life, followed by PepsiMax Download Show (39%), Orange Wednesdays (35%), Waitrose/Sainsbury customer Magazines (35%), Dove Real Beauty Campaign (35%), Carling Music Events (34%), Red Bull Flugtag (29%), Gillette World of Sport (25%).

In terms of whether they had Participated with/viewed/ read or listened to the activity, BMW Films, Heinz Dinner Doctors and Nokia Fashion House all scored lowest at 3%, followed by Bupa Health Show (4%), Guardian Sports Show (4%), Audi TV (5%), B&Q DIY Show (5%), PepsiMax Download Show (6%), O2 Wireless Festival (6%) and Red Bull Flugtag (7%).

The highest level of participation was 34% for Waitrose/ Sainsbury customer Magazines, followed by Orange Wednesdays (14%), Gillette World of Sport (11%), Dove Real Beauty Campaign (11%), Tesco Race for Life (9%) and Carling Music Events (9%). 

It was clear that there were some marked variations depending on age and gender groups.
In the vast majority of cases the consumer panel preferred the innovative approach to advertising demonstrated by these companies than more traditional types of advertising. For example in the case of Orange Wednesdays, 41% of 18-24 year old men said they preferred this type of advertising. For the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, 33% of 18-24 year old women preferred this type of promotion.

In the case of BMW Films there was a preference favouring a more traditional approach, albeit a relatively low level of 7% of consumers. The same was true for Audi TV, where 8% of consumers said they preferred the traditional approach to advertising. Again there were marked variations within the different age and gender groups.

When buying products from a Fashion Retailer, Car Manufacturer, Electronics Manufacturer and Supermarket we asked the panel which of the following statements were important to them in making their decision to purchase; They are honest and ethical, They are entertaining and exciting, They are efficient or price conscious, They are innovative or leading the market, They don’t take life too seriously and They are environmentally conscious.

In all cases, They are efficient or price conscious scored highest, with the Supermarkets coming top at 56%, followed by Fashion Retailers (45%), Electronics Manufacturers (42%) and Car Manufacturers (38%).

For Car Manufacturers, They are environmentally conscious was also deemed to be important with 25% agreeing. This was more marked amongst 45-54 year old women (32%).
For Electronics Manufacturers equal importance was given to being innovative or market leading and honest and ethical both scoring 26%. However, for 18-24 year old men, it was most important for them to be entertaining or exciting with 33% agreeing with this statement.
According to the panel, it was important that Fashion Retailers should be honest and ethical being reflected amongst the female groups with 27% of 18-24 year olds agreeing.

For the Supermarkets it was clear that being environmentally conscious was also seen to be important with 24% agreeing overall, rising to 29% amongst 45-54 year old women.
Andrew Canter, Head of Research for the BCMA and CEO of contentworx, says: "This ground breaking study has given us some truly fascinating insights into what consumers really think about branded content. It will help to further shape our thinking in this emerging sector to maximise the power of content for the benefit of our clients. This is the start of a series of initiatives that will give brands and their agencies the support they need to commit to more branded content campaigns in the future."

The Branded Content Marketing Association (BCMA) is an independent association designed to bring together organisations from the advertising, brand development, sponsorship, media, broadcasting, programming and entertainment industries to provide a forum for discussion and to address the changing needs of the advertising and branded content market.

Contentworx is an independent branded content specialist that guides advertisers through the complex world of branded content.


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