Consumers are now demanding ‘branded entertainment’, such as free videos and other online content, from brands and attribute extra value to it. Young adults are especially responsive: being provided with free online content makes them want to hear more from the brand.
A survey of US adults aged 18 or over carried out by Edelman, the leading independent global Public Relations firm, on the value of branded entertainment has found that around 34% of all US adults perceive value in branded entertainment as part of the consumer process. This feeling is even more marked among young adults, those aged 18 to 34, for whom the figure rises to 52%. However, the content must be readily accessible, 56% of young adults stating that they want to hear more from a brand that provides them with free online content. The results of the ‘Brand Engagement in an Era of Social Entertainment’ survey come as no surprise to Isabelle Mathieu, Inbound Marketing and Social Media consultant, who maintains that in future brand communication will depend heavily on this type of approach. “Brands will
need to differentiate themselves through entertaining content or practical tips if they want
to appeal to consumers who are already being bombarded with web marketing, especially as
content is now king on the Internet,” she underlines.
Demand is there
In the same vein, 31% of all consumers surveyed said they expect brands to provide free online video content, compared with 39% of young adults. Some 31% of the 18-34 age group say they would like to obtain content that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get hold of, versus just 20% of all adults. These percentages can be explained, according to Isabelle Mathieu, by the fact that “the younger generation have incorporated Internet use, especially social media use, into their daily lives and they stay connected all the time, which creates expectations.” The social media consultant points out that, overall, “we are seeing a change in consumer behaviour as people tire of direct marketing which they find too intrusive". The concept of branded entertainment should respond to this trend and although only a third of adults overall and 42% of young adults responding said they actually wanted brands to entertain them, these figures nevertheless have substantial growth potential, reckons Edelman.
It’s all about trust
Some 53% of those who don’t currently expect to be entertained by brands remain largely neutral – feeling neither favourable nor unfavourable – as regards the value of branded entertainment. This potential is there to be exploited, especially given the finding that a third of 18-34 year olds trust brands that provide free online content more than those that don’t. As far as Isabelle Mathieu is concerned, this is where the value of brand entertainment content comes in. “This way of conveying brand authenticity, openness, and sincerity creates a climate of trust, which makes it more likely that consumers will purchase the brand’s products,” she argues. However, nearly half the Americans surveyed stated that there must be a real ‘fit’ between the brand and the entertainment and content. “This provides an opportunity for the brand to create a real experience for the consumer, using interesting content that meets his or her needs and makes for an engaged community,” concludes Mathieu