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Defend Your Research: Commercials Make Us Like TV More-by Leif Nelson

Why I like this article: I agree that without TV commercials, it is easy to get bored. Appropriate pause and interruption do arouse more curiousity. In a broad sense, this could also apply to both daily life and commercial activities, sometimes, the customers themselves have no idea what they really want and be a little pushy is not a bad thing.

The finding: Though people say they prefer to watch television without ads, they sometimes enjoy programs that have commercial interruptions more.

The study: Leif Nelson, in collaboration with Tom Meyvis of New York University’s Stern School and Jeff Galak of Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School, showed subjects three kinds of TV shows: Taxi episodes, nature documentaries, and Bollywood programs. Some watched the shows with commercials, some without. Subjects who watched TV with commercials reported greater enjoyment—and were willing to pay more for DVD collections of shows by the same director—than subjects who watched without interruptions.

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The challenge: Could those annoying ads actually enhance television shows? Professor Nelson, defend your research.

Nelson: Not only did people report greater enjoyment when shows were interrupted by commercials, but they did so regardless of the quality of the commercials. In one of our six studies, we asked subjects to rate the ads relative to the shows, and there was no correlation between badly rated ads and lower enjoyment of the programs. People enjoyed shows that had commercials more, whether those commercials were good or bad. And if they watched shows with commercials, people were willing to pay 30% more for a DVD compilation of programs by the same director.

Sidebar Icon Interruptions Keep Viewers’ Ratings Up

HBR: Frankly, we’re struggling with this finding. It flies in the face of clear media trends: DVRs that help us zip through commercials are wildly popular; networks use “limited commercial interruptions” as a selling point; people pay money for ad-free cable programming on channels like HBO.

Just because we end up enjoying something more when it has commercials doesn’t mean we expect to enjoy it more that way. DVRs appeal to us because prior to our viewing experience, we think we want no ads. It’s only after we have the experience that we realize it’s more enjoyable when it’s interrupted.

What is it about commercials that increases enjoyment?

Nothing, actually. It’s not the commercial itself, it’s the interruption. The phenomenon we think is at work here is adaptation. The easiest example of adaptation is a massage chair. The longer a massage goes on, the more you get used to it. You adapt. But if it stops briefly, then starts again, it retriggers that initial enjoyment: “Oh yeah, this massage feels great.” People report enjoying interrupted massages more even though they predict they’ll like uninterrupted ones more. There’s substantial work that shows this effect over and over, and it’s for both good and bad experiences. If you buy a luxury car, it’s fantastic coming off the lot, but later it’s just a car. Jail is incomprehensibly horrible the first day. Eventually, it’s less awful.

But if you let that prisoner out for a day…

That’d be practically cruel. You’d stop the adaptation and retrigger those initial feelings about jail when they had to go back.

Is adaptation a universal effect? Should our office meetings have “commercial interruptions”?

It is universal, but I wouldn’t recommend meeting interruptions. Remember that the effect doesn’t apply only to positive experiences; for every massage chair, there’s a kid practicing scales on a violin. If you interrupt that adaptation, it’s going to resurface all those unpleasant feelings that accompanied the first moments you heard the squealing strings. The problem for the guy holding the 90-minute meeting—I’m going to go ahead and predict that’s more of a violin scales experience than a massage chair experience—is that if you interrupt the adaptation, you make it worse when you start again. On the flip side, sometimes you’re trying to create pleasurable experiences for your employees. If you have social events that are 90 minutes long, you might notice that after a half hour some people are kind of done and start taking off. But if you build in interruptions, people will enjoy the gathering more, for a longer time.

You still haven’t accounted for the popularity of, say, The Sopranos and all the subscription-channel programs. Don’t we pay to get those shows without commercials?

Contemporary shows like The Sopranos might be interrupting themselves. Remember, it’s not the commercial that increases the enjoyment, it’s the interruption. These shows often run six or more parallel plots and constantly shuffle between them. One plot interrupts another. We saw this effect with one of our more elaborate studies, which compared enjoyment of different types of Bollywood musical numbers. The ones that were complicated and unpredictable and seemed to interrupt themselves got better ratings than the ones that had more-linear narratives.

Some credit HBO for breakthrough storytelling. I might argue that for HBO to be successful, it had to create this kind of storytelling, because people wouldn’t have enjoyed traditional TV narratives as much if they were uninterrupted for 50 minutes. And if they didn’t enjoy them as much, they probably wouldn’t pay to subscribe.

Does anything dull this adaptation effect?

Age. The effect is far more pronounced in younger people. This is consistent with the idea that as people get older they need less stimulation to get enjoyment. They adapt more slowly.

What are you doing next? Trying to prove we actually love the dentist?

I don’t think so. We’re working with a large TV network, which is replicating the study in its market research. They’re actually thinking about the programming implications for this, which is exciting to me. This project suggests there’s a possibility of making TV more efficient and effective—for the studio, the network, the advertiser, and the consumer. Everyone goes home happy.

Leif Nelson is an associate professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.


The HNWI and Upper Middle Class : Attraction and Repulsion

Why I like the article: It divides luxury consumers into two entirely different groups, very helpful in terms of marketing and understanding your customer base.


Opinion Way and Think Out, two French research institutes, have, both and at the same time, studied the Mainland China people’s relationship with the occidental luxury for several years. Opinion Way, with the help of Chinedge, studied the HNWI and Think Out, the Middle Class. Chinedge and Think Out took on the Upper Middle Class. Chinedge has been working with both institutes and so, had access to both of their studies.

Of course, many similarities appeared : A strong appetence for education as well as a desire to master the knowledge of brands and also how much the social status is linked to the occidental brands. But at the same time, one could point out the formidable tensions which came to light between these two classes, tensions that the brands must take in account if they want to succeed on this market.

The HNWI consider themselves as the social elite and want this status to be acknowledged by their peers. One quite paradoxical answer, in the Opinion  Way study, stresses  acutely this fact in saying that “the advantage of luxury is that it is expensive”. That is to say the main advantage of luxury is that it is not everybody who can afford it. So luxury helps creating a social elite, a member of which I am.

Luxury makes you different from the others… And here are following several remarks concerning some worldwide brands like LV or GUCCI which, as they are worn by the Middle Class, make these HNWI quite uncomfortable regarding their unequalled elite status : It is too common to wear those brands !

On the other hand, the Think Out study about the Upper Middle Class clearly shows that these mentioned brands are precisely “the stuff that dreams are made of ” and all this because they are worn all over the world by the wealthiest social classes and especially  by the Chinese “celebs”.

Running before the wind, the elite looks for some proper brand that will not become available to everybody. But as soon as the elite adopts a brand, the Upper Middle Class gets hold of it so that it soon  becomes more “democratic”, forcing the elite to find another one etc… At this game, only HERMES wins:  This brand succeeds in maintaining scarcity.

So if brands don’t want to become out of fashion, they must, today, clearly differenciate what they offer – their locations, media, events – for each of these two classes.

Special Chinese media, for instance, exist for the HNWI class, like ROBB REPORT, TARGET, NOBLESSE or else BOATING CHINA,POLO… Chinese marketers call them “Direct Mailing” or “Exclusive Media”. As for the Upper Middle Class, VOGUE, HARPER’S BAZAAR, ESQUIRE or MODERN will be chosen, all wide audience magazines that everybody can easily buy in newsstands on the street.

Locations also will be significant : Even if SOUTH BEAUTY and the LAN CLUB belong to the same owner, the first one aims the Upper Middle Class as the last one will only admit the elite.

CRM data basis should also be segmented by the experts so that it would permit to identify more precisely who’s who among the brand customers and  maybe help finding some different conclusions.

If some brands want to deal with the elite of this country, they must equip themselves to do so and find a new system allowing the wealth of offers to coexist with  some kind of scarcity.This is the big challenge issued to the occidental luxury goods in China today.

Men vs Women in Consuming Habit

Interesting findings on men and women consuming habit, seems that the perchasing power of men was somewhat undervalued in the past, and now the connotation of masculinity is entirely different, men get more involved in family perchasing process, in the fields that were used to be pure female, that’s why it’s time to lean a little bit on male targets when marketing and branding.

Men vs women

19% of men believe the recession will have a significant impact on them, compared with 28% of women.

28% of men believe the economy will recover soon, compared with 21% of women.

57% of men believe they will maintain their level of spend on eating out, compared with 47% of women.

59% of men think they will spend the same amount on holidays as they did before the recession, compared with 45% of women.

51% of men say they will continue to buy new furniture, compared with 38% of women.

50% of men plan to buy large electrical goods, compared with 41% of women.

63% of men intend to spend the same amount on organic or ethical foods as they did before the recession, compared with 57% of women.

Source: GfK NOP

Not just a pretty face | Brands | Marketing Week

Not just a pretty face | Brands | Marketing Week.

Where I found this: Marketing Week

Why I like this:

1.Very  insightful on a new niche market in cosmetics industry.

2. Good example with detailed information.

3. I personally find the market trend very promising.

From Marketing Week:Chanel’s luxury dream is turning to dust

Chanel’s luxury dream is turning to dust

Wed, 11 Aug 2010

By Mark Ritson

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