Word-of-Mouth is a key driver of success for today’s brands. But how do you know if it’s effective? Is every consumer mentioning a brand or product equally important – or are mentions from some consumers more valuable than others? To find out, Viacom International and Comedy Central developed a “Comedy Influentials Study” to elaborate on conversations about brands. One of the report’s main goals was to show where to find the consumer segment with the greatest Word-of-Mouth potential: the Influential Innovators.

The analysis was based on a quantitative online survey of 1,000 people ages 16 to 49 in each of four countries: Poland, Sweden, Germany, and The Netherlands. Here are the report’s key findings:

Most consumers have conversations about brands on a weekly basis. 

  • About 60-80% of consumers in the four countries had talked about brands in the last week
  • These conversations happen both online and offline, with face-to-face conversation leading
  • Most discuss brands with friends and family
  • Consumers discuss a wide variety of brand-related topics – including price, promotions, product features, and advertisements

Conversations about brands differ in terms of sentiment and the impact they generate. While more conversations are positive than negative, more also have a low impact.

  • In the four countries, an average of 60% of conversations about brands were positive and 40% were negative
  • But when it comes to impact – influencing someone’s image of a brand either positively or negatively, or making them curious to try the product – more are low-impact (60%) than high-impact (40%)

Based on sentiment (positive/negative) and impact (ability to change opinions), there are four types of brand conversations: Ballad, Bashing, Bonding, and Barking. 

  • Ballad: positive sentiment and high-impact
  • Bashing: negative sentiment and high-impact
  • Bonding: positive sentiment and low-impact
  • Barking: negative sentiment and low-impact

Some brands are more successful than others at creating successful Word-of-Mouth. 

  • In general, the technology category has more ballad conversations than the other categories examined (automotive, telecom, clothing, and beverages)
  • Audi, Samsung, and Apple are the brands with the most ballad conversations

Consumers differ in their social influence and speed of adoption. Among them, there are four types: Influential Innovators, Independent Innovators, Social Spreaders, and Followers.

  • Influential Innovators: high social influence, high speed of adoption
  • Independent Innovators: low social influence, high speed of adoption
  • Social Spreaders: high social influence, low speed of adoption
  • Followers: low social influence, low speed of adoption

Consumers who adopt new products and services quickly are often also the ones influencing others. On all topics, Influential Innovators are the most influential. 

  • Social influence and speed of adoption are highly correlated
  • In the four countries, the percentage of Influential Innovators varied (ranging from 18% to 41%)
  • Influential Innovators influence others more than other groups across all topics examined – especially products/services, technology, TV shows and movies, bars/restaurants/museums/stores, favorite brands, and vacation destinations

Comedy Central has a higher relative share of Influential Innovators – especially among heavy viewers. 

  • Comedy Central is the only channel in the four countries with an over-representation of Influential Innovators
  • Heavy Comedy Central viewers are 35-68% more likely to be Influential Innovators than light/non-viewers in the four countries
  • Most Comedy Central viewers consider themselves Influential Innovators in technology (ranging from 31% to 53% in the four countries)
  • Comedy Central viewers are more positive when discussing brands, having the highest rate of “ballad” conversations across all categories and brands

Humor and fun are the most important drivers of Word-of-Mouth – and Comedy Central outperforms the competition in both areas.

  • Humor and fun are the qualities of a commercial that are most likely to inspire conversation, and those attributes are strongly associated with the Comedy Central brand