Is Roku Taking a Bite Out of Apple?

What social media data can tell us about how consumers choose a streaming service

In the last few years, Americans’ television and film consumption habits have rapidly changed. The streaming boom has reduced the demand for real-time viewing, and binging a full TV series on the couch has replaced heading to the movie theater for a double feature.


As the era of peak television continues, how can brands in the evolving streaming space stay on top of consumer needs? In such a competitive landscape, what can streaming providers do to stand out in consumers’ minds? The answer is by using social media data to understand what streaming features consumers love and what factors they consider when making a purchase.
Social data is perfect for answering these questions because it’s unsolicited. Consumers constantly offer up unvarnished opinions, complaints, and praises, all in real time. In this analysis, we’ll analyze the conversations around different streaming services and look at the stages consumers go through when deciding which one to buy, and what factors they discuss before and after purchase.

Roku’s David to Apple TV’s Goliath

Roku broke into the streaming market early, but it was still an underdog. The upstart business surprised the market by competing successfully with digital behemoths like Apple and Google. How did they capture that early interest? Roku was able to connect to many providers and offer an easy-to-use solution for streaming. When we analyzed the social conversations around Roku and Apple TV, something was very clear: younger users are attracted to the low price tag of Roku, while Apple TV has a firm foothold with those over 35.
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But what can we learn from social about why people are purchasing these products? What drew them to Apple TV over Roku (or vice-versa), and what led them to eventually buy one product over the other?

What Buyers Want: The Purchase Lifecycle

At Crimson, we use a series of customized categories to understand the phases of the purchase lifecycle. The key attributes for Pre-Purchase conversation — Awareness, Interest/Consideration, Evaluation, and Purchase Intent — are all tied to individual stages of the purchase lifecycle. The Awareness phase shows low buyer intent, while the Purchase Intent phase uses specific terminology, declaring actual intent or commitment to buy.
Post-purchase conversation delves into the importance of the secondary evaluation: after you buy, how do you like your new product? We applied this methodology to evaluate the relevant conversations about both Roku and Apple TV.

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Edging Apple TV by 2% in explicit purchase intent mentions, Roku’s conversation about conversion (someone who says they purchased the product)  is much higher than Apple TV.
While Apple TV generates more than twice as much purchase interest/consideration, the Roku audience is converting to purchase (6%) at higher levels than the Apple TV audience (3%).
This signals that Apple TV has room for efforts tailored at generating buying desire and conversion.
Roku also draws a higher percentage of post-purchase dialogue that includes audiences saying they are watching content on the device.

How do streaming purchase conversations breakdown by gender?

When looking at Roku and Apple TV’s conversations broken down by gender, we see significantly higher post-purchase chatter from females, and a higher pre-purchase conversation by males.
This could mean males are the decision-makers for purchasing these products, and those females are more likely to review or share their experiences.

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These quantitative observations can help brands react to changes within a product category: if more women are reviewing the product after buying it, perhaps there’s a way to incentivize in an advertising campaign to share their favorite new product with their friends and family.
But the crux of customized categories is how they allow business to tap into the conversations that are relevant to them, with irrelevant noise removed. The reasons people buy Roku products are: affordability, product was received as a gift, and the presence of a headphone port.
For Apple, the story is a bit different but just as relevant to the company’s overall design strategy. The cross-pollination of Apple’s ecosystem is the largest portion of discussion for Apple TV buyers, followed by the subcategories of integration for AirPlay and Apple Music. The ease of integration is the main draw, which makes sense because if you look at the interests of the Apple TV audience, they align with the traditional interests of Apple customers: Development, Design, and Advertising.
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A secret streaming weapon

The future of streaming is bright and unfettered. Understanding how these conversations evolve over time and what’s continually relevant to buyers will keep top streaming companies stay on top of their segment and buyer concerns. Social media can offer a different lens on the consumer, their unconstrained opinions and recommendations from their social community, which all affect their larger buying-behavior, acting as a comparative source for sales figures and market data. Uncovering better ways to sell, with social data in hand, just means more dollars in your brand’s pockets.

For additional insight into the cord cutting trend, download our US Consumer Trends Report on Entertainment.

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