Quality over Quantity?

A red haired woman holding her ears and rolling her eyes.
Written by Kay Robinson,

35% of UK consumers claim they’re now reading, watching or listening to the news more often than they used to. However, people becoming more engaged isn’t the whole story – it seems that we’re also getting more selective as to what we engage with. With Mindshare’s research showing that 54% are making more conscious and deliberate choices around what media they consume… what might this mean for the way that people engage with commercial communications?

A big reason why people are starting to ‘tune out’ of certain media sources is Brexit (no surprises there!). But following closely is the feeling that content is overwhelmingly negative. We all groan at the news from time to time, but as we’ve been investigating recently here at Gusto, there’s a growing consumer trend of mindfulness over what exactly we consume. This involves thinking more carefully about what we put into our bodies, based on what impact our diets have on our wider wellbeing and even on the planet. The same principle goes for our media diets.

Researchers like Jodie Jackson, author of You Are What You Read, have found that many consumers are switching off the news not because they’re apathetic to current events but because negative content makes them feel hopeless, and has an adverse effect on their mood. The combination of multiple channels and always-on modern media cycles can make us feel over-supplied and under-informed – and consequently, feel rather gloomy about our ability to make positive change.

So what are consumers doing to get away from ‘negative’ material? The July 2019 MRS Impact article Choosing Words Wisely suggests that many are becoming more savvy around bias and (in)accuracy in media sources; fact-checking and cross-referencing what they read to ensure they’re getting a balanced view. Some are choosing specific sources over others, searching for certain types of content such as ‘solutions-based’ journalism which focuses on innovative, real-world problem-solving, or engaging with fewer, deeper think-pieces. Another technique is to simply switch off, or if this seems too extreme (I have to admit to feeling a little uncomfortable when I’m ‘off the grid’!) then to mute notifications so that intrusions are minimised.

But what does all this mean for brands wanting to reach these media-savvy consumers? While the answer will also depend on other audience characteristics, we’ve been thinking about some key questions to ask:

  • How can communications (and the customer journey towards content) be made appealing/relevant? People will always engage more with content that they have chosen to approach, rather than content that they are pushed towards or find accidentally
  • What emotional reaction will the communications promote? Our attention tends to gravitate towards negative or worrying information as we’re wired to try and look out for ways to stay safe, but this ‘mindful media’ trend indicates that many consumers actually want to receive and engage with hopeful, optimistic, empowering messaging
  • Is the communication on-brand? Despite more mindfulness towards media, most of us still gravitate towards sites and sources we’re familiar with. Brand identity and continuity are reassuring and promote trust
  • What’s the best channel? A mindful approach to media sees consumers restricting their engagement where they can, so choosing the right channel (and appropriate format for the channel) is key to avoiding high bounce rates

Here at Gusto we conduct research throughout the communications lifecycle, from planning through to post launch. To find out more about how we can help you optimise your communications approach, please get in touch!

By Kay Robinson

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