Jumping on the The X Factor brandwagon

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It’s not just the press who are running gratuitous X Factor stories to tap into the power of this TV cultural phenomenon – The X Factor really does have something to offer brands in terms of market insight.

Love it or hate, The X Factor has become a force of popular culture to be reckoned with, and by all accounts, it’s here to stay for at least another year.

The programme’s quality and integrity, is of course, debatable, especially to those wishing to claim some form of cultural superiority. The favourite criticism I have read comes from The Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh, who has described it as a “vast exercise in product placement”.

As a content platform, the actual ratio of real content (people singing) to fluff is indeed incredibly low. (I suppose now is the time to mention that I did indeed vote, just once, for Rebecca).

But despite all this, The X Factor has managed to create its own universe of brand power with a gravitational pull so immense that it drew in a record 19.4 million viewers last Saturday and generated £5m in phone voting revenues alone, not to mention the £25m it attracted in advertising revenue. This proves that X Factor is a force too strong to be ignored by brands.

Analysis of The X Factor can offer marketers some valuable insight, both around its audience, as shown by Kantar Media, and in terms of generating new celebrity partnership opportunities for brands, as revealed in YouGov data.

Kantar’s TGI consumer panel highlights that there are around 300,000 X Factor viewers who earn more than £50,000, and that X Factor fans are more likely to buy into brands than the average UK adult. They spend more than twice the average adult on their weekly groceries. On the whole, they are more materialistic and career-driven than the average adult.

Kantar Media’s marketing and product development manager Russell Budden claims that this shows X Factor fans have a great spending power and “are an audience that marketers of premium brands could really tap into”.

Meanwhile, YouGov’s special survey of 1,566 X Factor viewers, which accurately predicted the contest’s Top Four places, is a good indicator of the potential of some of this year’s contestants as brand ambassadors.

Runner-up Rebecca Ferguson was voted by 45% of respondents as having the best sense of style of all the contestants, putting her forward as a prime candidate for fashion and beauty brand endorsements.

Meanwhile, Wagner was voted by 44% as most likely to appear on the programme “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” next year. Perhaps this also indicates that we should prepare ourselves for an onslaught of arbitrary product commercials, a la Jedward this year for brands such as Nintendo, Shake ’n’ Vac, Rowntree, and soon to be moneysupermarket.com.

And let’s not forget those sweet little lads from boy band One Direction, with 40% of YouGov’s survey predicting that they will have the most successful career of all of this year’s X Factor finalists.

If this is true, the brand power behind this group could be amplified five times. Think Girls Aloud and their range of false eyelashes, product endorsement for Kit Kat bars as well as breakaway projects including Nicola Roberts’ make up range, and Kimberly Walsh modelling for retailer Next – and dare I mention the ubiquitous presence of Cheryl Cole in our supermarket beauty aisles.

Lastly, the YouGov survey results enforce the heightening brand power of X Factor judge Dannii Minogue, with 40% saying she is the most trustworthy judge on the panel and 31% saying if they could choose a mentor out of the four judges, it would be her. No doubt Ms Minogue has her hands full with lucrative deals with M&S, and the release of her own fashion label and biography but it shows that M&S was on to something good when they snapped her up reasonably early this year.

So, while many rubbish X Factor for reasons like blanding the music industry, its sphere of influence means marketers should definitely consider jumping on its brandwagon.

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