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Research : inTV – How to harness the power of conversations

by on February 8, 2013 in Lead story, Research, Retail, Retail News, Small Business, Startups, TV

New research published today by inTV shows that 90% of consumer conversations about products or services feature at least one brand, demonstrating the power of consumers as brand ‘Transmitters’, increasing the value advertisers achieve from their campaigns exponentially through earned media. 

Banking/Finance is the most talked about product sector amongst consumers, with 68% of respondents chatting to others on this topic on a monthly basis, and 11% on a daily basis.

However, the brands they love to talk about most are in the Smartphones/Tablets sector, with Apple accounting for 70% of brand conversations in this category, followed by Samsung at 53%.  In the automotive sector the top four most talked about brands are all German, with Audi at 39% of brand conversations in the category, followed by Volkswagen at 35%, BMW at 34% and Mercedes Benz at 32%.


Top three most talked about brands by category – Q. Thinking about that category, which brands have you had a conversation about in the last 4 weeks?
Watches Smartphones/Tablets Airlines Automotive Destination Banking/Fin
Rolex 42%


Apple 70%


Air France 38%


Audi 39%


USA 45% Santander 30%
Omega 31% Samsung 53% British Airways 36% Volkswagen 35% Australia 25% Barclays 21%
Swatch 30% Blackberry 17% Lufthansa 35% BMW 34% Canada 20% Allianz 17%


inTV, a cooperative group of independent TV channels comprising BBC World News, France 24, ESPN Classic, euronews, EuroSport, National Geographic, Sky News, CNBC and TV5 Monde, used research agency InSites Consulting to carry out a unique study into the power of Word of Mouth (WOM) across major European markets.  The aim was to identify what gets consumer conversations started, what influences people’s attitudes to brands and, ultimately, to quantify the impact WOM has on moving others further along the purchase funnel.  The research looked across six major advertising product sectors – Banking/Finance, Automotive, Smartphones/Tablets, Travel Destinations, Airlines and Watches.

Who are consumers talking to?

According to the research, only 4% of conversations about products and services are carried out through social media channels, dispelling the misconception that social media is the golden bullet when it comes to generating buzz.  Instead, 90% of these conversations actually happen offline in the real world amongst real people.  83% are with family and friends, while a large number are with acquaintances at work (28% with colleagues and 10% with business contacts).  The table below shows that inTV viewers are more likely to have product/service conversations with others than non-inTV viewers, especially with business contacts.  For advertisers this demonstrates that advertising on inTV channels can create more WOM buzz compared to advertising on other channels.


Index of inTV viewers having conversations with others compared to non-inTV viewers – *statistically significant difference – e.g. inTV viewers are twice as likely to talk about products/services with business contacts than non-inTV viewers




Business Contacts

Blog/Social Media Contacts







The importance of frequency and Tone of Voice in conversations

Whilst WOM is very important, it is equally important to ensure that when people are talking about your brand it’s in a positive way – but it seems that many brands are still not getting to grips with this.  As already noted, the most regularly talked about sector is Banking/Finance which was talked about on a monthly basis by 68% of respondents, with 80% of these conversations including mention of at least one brand.

However, the big issue for the Banking/Finance sector is Tone of Voice as, with 30% of branded conversations being negative compared to only 24% being positive, the balance of buzz is currently tipped in the wrong direction.  All other categories saw significantly higher positive brand conversations compared to negative.  The most positive Tone of Voice was achieved in the Watches sector followed by Automotive and inTV viewers were found to be more positive about all categories compared to non-inTV viewers, including for Banking/Finance.  See table:


Frequency of Conversations by Category – Q. How often do you have a conversation about each of the following topics?

Tone of voice – Q. In the brand conversation in this sector were the discussions positive or negative?





















Travel Destinations















How much do these conversations influence others to make a purchase?

But what is the real value to brands of these consumer conversations?  In 27% of category conversations, consumers believe that they have taught others something new about a certain product or brand, and this rises to 31% for Watches and 36% for Automotive.  More importantly, 8% of these conversations made someone else buy or try a certain brand.

For large advertisers, leveraging an additional 8% of sales through Word of Mouth can equate to £millions of incremental business.  In every category conversations with inTV viewers were more likely to result in a purchase than those with non-inTV viewers. For instance, in the Automotive sector inTV viewers are 2.7 times more likely to make others buy or try a certain brand than non-inTV viewers.

For brands wishing to harness the power of WOM, the key is to identify and target ‘Champions’ – those people with influence who talk to a lot of people, provide them with lots of information and who have the ability to convince others.  17% of consumers are a Champion in at least one of the six product categories studied, and their influence is far reaching, having a major impact on the purchase funnel.  Champions are over 40% more likely than average to trigger others to look up information on products/brands, 90% times more likely to convince others to choose a certain brand and 1.5 times more likely than average to make them buy or try a certain brand.  Interestingly, in the Automotive sector Champions are three times more likely than average to influence purchase.

Belinda Barker, Chairperson at inTV, comments, “Social media is undoubtedly an important channel for creating brand buzz, but our research shows that these conversations only equate to a small proportion of brand conversations, with nine out of ten happening face to face or on the phone.  For us at inTV, this validates our view that advertising should be the start of a conversation – a positive conversation about brands and products that creates positive advocacy, drives purchase intention and increases lifetime value.

“What was particularly gratifying to see was that, in every category, inTV viewers were significantly more likely to be Champions than non-inTV viewers.  This shows that advertising on inTV channels will improve Return on Investment by creating a much higher level of earned media than other TV channels.”

Click here for a full copy of the research and an infographic with some of the key findings of the research.  For more information about the survey please contact or any of inTV’s member channels.

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