The power of positivity: A call for brands to target consumer moods

Hearst research shows that brands should be targeting positive people.

Micro-targeting. Algorithms. Forensic data analysis.

Buzzwords, coupled with the intense pressure to deliver short-term solutions, are driving a lot of the marketing industry today. As advertisers chase audiences around the digital ecosystem, there seems to be a disregard for people’s mood and mindset.

It’s rare nowadays to see a media brief that looks to target an audience based on their mood; instead, they target a demographic, purchasing behaviour or passion point. Those are important, but we are human beings before we are marketing segmentations.

We have forgotten a key principle: communication is most effective when people are feeling open-minded, engaged and curious. When they are feeling positive. Brands and advertisers need a rethink and to prioritise their targeting around how their consumer is feeling.

Positive mindsets

At Hearst, all of our content and experiences are designed to help our consumers feel more positive and to get more out of life. All of our brands stand as a beacon of positivity in a world that is increasingly negative.

With this in mind, we set out to understand how positive our audiences are and how attractive a positive mindset is for advertisers.

We launched a research project with Theobalds Road Consulting to look at the impact of a person’s mindset on the effectiveness of marketing and purchasing habits.

Negative news coverage has gone up by 23% in the past 30 years and continues to get distributed across social platforms. The UK is experiencing Brexit instability, a rise in crime and a growing fragility in our younger generation, who are daunted by social media pressures. We are surrounded by negativity and we tend to focus on the bad stuff rather than the good.

Despite all of this, there are positive people out there. And they are consuming media. Our research shows that 58% of the UK adult population have a positive outlook on life, compared with 70% of Hearst’s consumers who have a positive outlook on life.

It is crucial for brands to understand and engage with positive people. According to our research, brand favourability and consideration improve by 18 and six percentage points respectively among people in a positive mindset. These are seismic differences. Couple that with the fact that 77% of positive people take some form of action after consuming media, compared with only 63% of those feeling less positive. Positive people are curious, they like to discover new things and they are twice as likely to embrace change.

Planners need to be brave

These are the behaviours that brands need to take notice of. Planners need to be brave and buck the current trend of viewing people as numbers rather than… well, actual human beings with feelings and emotions.

There are many media moments that attract positive people in positive environments: watching films, a curated playlist or reading your favourite magazine. These moments are out there and planners should start thinking more imaginatively about how they plan their campaigns accordingly.

Ultimately, brands advertise so that audiences will take action off the back of that advertising and ultimately buy their products. Our research shows that positive people are much more likely to take action after engaging with an ad.

Isn’t it time that brands reconsider who and how they target by focusing on how consumers feel? When brands advertise to people who feel positive, their advertising will work far harder. And in a world where advertisers are finding it more and more challenging to compete for people’s attention, targeting moments and mindset will stand them out from the crowd.

Robert Ffitch is chief strategy officer at Hearst UK

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