What does your media bubble look like?
Fake news, Macron, AI, WannaCry, veganism, IKEA Frakta bag, Leonardo DiCaprio, gluten, Kylie Jenner, #fitspiration, Bibimbap, Skam, Omni, Omnipollo. Our view of the world around us is largely dependent on which sources of information we rely on, through which media channels we consume it, as well as the people around us.
The world is transitioning from a traditional “everyone gets kind of the same information” through newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, to “everyone gets kind of their own information” through Google, related articles on news sites, Facebook feed, banners, recommendations on Spotify, newsletters through emails etc. Online you get profiled by the way you browse, what you read and click on, what you listen to, what you sign up for, which websites you visit and what you like on social media channels. This information is then used by publishers and brands to target you with relevant content and advertising you are most likely to be interested in. As a result, you get catered with content (e.g. articles, videos, music, whitepapers, product and service recommendations, banners) that support the trace you leave behind, perhaps in line with your own values and beliefs. This creates individual bubbles where you get more and more narrowed content that matches your own interests and less of the “general opinion”.
For companies, not to mention political parties, marketing automation technologies allow you to customize messages on an individual level to the masses. This can be a double edged sword, on the one hand, we get more of what we want and what we are interested in. On the other hand, we get more decentralised in our world view allowing us to be easy targets for an unprecedented amount of disinformation, so called ‘alternative truths’ and fake news. Online, there is no higher power that tells you what is actually true or false. However, one example of an initiative taken to tackle this disinformation, was during the recent French presidential elections, when the newspaper Libération, together with J. Walter Thompson Paris created a human search engine with real-life journalists helping out to sort facts from fiction (source: Creativity).
The Informed Consumer study
Understanding the consumer is a crucial part of our work at Kuudes. In the Informed Consumer study we dive into the the motives and most recent trends underlying consumer choices. Looking at the four field matrix of our consumer study in Sweden, one could say that the groups that are placed lower in the matrix (The Bystanders and The Considerate) are at the slower end of adopting new things. Traditional media such as TV, local newspapers and radio are still widely used in these groups. The Considerate is the most inactive group in using social media, however, for those who are active, Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. In the ethnographic part of this study we discovered that for these two groups, Aftonbladet and Expressen was often mentioned as main sources for both news and entertainment. This group is still a bit sceptical about security online, for example, 61% of The Considerate would buy more online if it felt more reliable.
Read more about the Swedish consumer groups.
When we look at the middle of the matrix, where The Smart and The Seekers are placed, we can see a digital behaviour pattern that is more multi-channelled. The Smart, spend most of their time online comparing prices, products and looking for great deals, while The trend aware Seekers spend their time online getting inspired by lifestyle, interior and fashion websites. Whilst The Smart are typically only on Facebook, The Seekers are the most active social media users of all the groups (Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr). However, being “on point” takes time away from keeping up with all the other stuff that is going on in the world (e.g. politics & news).
The well-connected Achievers are frequent users, often several times a day, of social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin and sees themselves as a part of the global world. In our Swedish study we also learnt that The Achievers especially, are prone to follow many news sources through an aggregator app called Omni, where they get all the headlines of the day, but don’t necessarily have to open the news for a fully detailed article. This group thinks it is important to know what is going on in the world for the sake of being able to have an educated conversation, even though the topic in itself might not necessarily be that interesting for them.
The Independent and The Committed are concerned about the world. While The Independent are more worried about politics, economy and terrorism, The Committed are more devoted to the environment, animal rights and sustainability. The journalistic quality of sources is considered important and they are less active on social media than the other consumer groups. Both groups are critical to what they see and read online, and consider Facebook, Aftonbladet and Expressen more as entertainment than a source for news. These groups also show great passion in their own favourite hobby, niche or field. During the interviews we met, amongst others, a bike fanatic, a small copper object collector and a Mods enthusiast.
The discussion above touches upon and discusses the variety of information the groups are exposed to, and therefore also the different realities and bubbles the consumer groups live in. A brand’s values are communicated through both planned (e.g. advertising, press releases, website) and unplanned messages (reputation, online word-of-mouth, news), and through content marketing, brands have the possibility to spread powerful messages that potentially could reshape those bubbles. A good example for this is an initiative by Heineken, showing how brands can take a stand for what they believe in. It is important to know your customer, but you should not only say what your customers want to hear but also challenge them and fight for your brand’s values.