Tuning to Euro audiences

The latest survey of European audiences allows marketers to analyse the cultural differences between consumers of TV and print media

This year’s edition of the European Media and Marketing Survey (EMS 99) provides valuable new insights into the European consumer. The study gives media owners, buyers and marketers an important understanding of changes in this broad but diverse market.

The EMS universe consists of 40 million high-income earners in the top 20 per cent of households in 16 European countries. Data in the 1999 edition was collected in 1997 and 1998 and incorporates a number of changes in the methodology used and questions asked.

For television, top-line media results reveal continued growth for pan-European TV, with the smaller and less well-established channels generating the highest percentage growth year on year. BBC World was up 37 per cent, CNBC up 96 per cent and Bloomberg 191 per cent.

The pan-European print arena saw steady year-on-year growth: Time was up 9 per cent, Business Week and Harvard Business Review 15 per cent, USA Today 21 per cent, and Euromoney 25 per cent.

The new figures reveal that respondents have an optimistic outlook on the economy, despite earlier fears of a recession. In 1998, 38 per cent of respondents felt that the economic climate had improved, compared with 35 per cent in 1997.

Attitudes towards advertising are also increasingly positive. In 1998, 42 per cent of respondents said they had a positive attitude towards TV ads, compared with 1997’s figure of 39 per cent. Respondents’ attitudes towards newspaper ads have also become more positive, rising from 41 per cent in 1997 to 45 per cent in 1998.

It is no surprise that overall use of the Internet has increased significantly. More interesting is the fact that use among the C audience has gone up nearly 100 per cent more than for other respondents – a fact that marketers must take on board.

Perhaps the most important addition to EMS 99 is the inclusion of Research into Social Cultures (RISC) statements. These allow the user to analyse audiences qualitatively, without relying solely on socio-economic or demographic segmentation.

The RISC descriptors have been formulated from the results of a postal questionnaire about changes in work practices and personal product consumption. Respondents are grouped into descriptors based on three basic cultural dimensions: global/local, social/individual and stability/exploration.

These statements can be used in a number of ways. Researchers can analyse national differences between target audiences or audience differences by brand usage or preference.

For example, the indices offer a classification of sport enthusiasts according to nationality. Spanish sport enthusiasts are likely to be independent, exploring new ideas, experiences and products. Italian sport enthusiasts are likely to be energetic, mobile networkers seeking success and achievement.

Given the growing trend of regionalisation in pan-European TV, the RISC segmentation allows marketers to establish cultural differences between audiences. These may influence the message of the advertisement or its positioning. Planners can use the RISC descriptors to gain further insight into the audience and their relationship with the channels.

While RISC provides information about the characteristics of pan-European TV channel viewers, Preview, a study commissioned by Carat International, provides complementary data on their viewing habits. Preview found that these viewers watch TV for an average of three hours a day during the week and four at the weekend. Some 98 per cent watch from home and 27 per cent out of home, while 71 per cent find the programming of the channels either very good or excellent. According to Preview, 88 per cent pay above-average attention to the programmes.

While EMS is one of the accepted surveys for analysing pan-European print, it is still far from being a standalone television planning tool. However, the recall data it provides remains the only independent source of information about the channels’ viewing levels.

The updated questionnaire and new RISC statements are a welcome addition to the survey, allowing valuable analysis of differences in viewing habits and attitudes between markets, audiences and channels.

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