Measuring Brand Affinity Generated by Past Holiday Ads

Study of Macy’s and Kohl’s Online Sentiment Shows Consumers Rave and Rebel Against the Retailers’ 2011 Holiday Advertising

In defining the budget and strategy for this year’s holiday creative, a good place to start is an analysis of your consumer’s brand affinity to your ads and the ads of your competitors last year.
Using the Crimson Hexagon ForSight™ platform, we conducted a retrospective ad appraisal, measuring the social media brand affinity of two major retail campaigns during the 2011 holiday season, which both used the creative tactic of parodying a trendy personality in pop culture and social media.
Did these campaigns resonate with consumers on social media? What was the larger impact on the brands, and on holiday revenue? Here’s what we found:

Macy’s VS Kohl’s Share of Voice

Macy’s Wins with 4.8% Rise in November Sales

You might remember the Macy’s “Screamer” TV spot, featuring Justin Bieber and a series of grown men screaming at sight of the pop singer. The ad promoted the retailer’s Black Friday sale and a Justin Bieber gift set to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation

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There were 18,387 opinions about this campaign on social media. Reactions were overwhelmingly positive (95%), driven by emotional appeal—specifically, an appeal to humor. In addition, the choice of Justin Bieber resonated with consumers, as praise of his character choice represented the second largest driver of sentiment (25%).

Pairing these analytic findings with sales data helps to complete the story: Macy’s November 2011 sales rose by 4.8% compared to the previous year.
Also interesting: Macy’s had dedicated six (6) seconds of the ad to promote the Justin Bieber gift set and Make-A-Wish. But, there was no measurable conversation about this offer on social media. Having already enlisted JB, did Macy’s perhaps miss an opportunity?

Kohl’s Loses with 6.2% Drop in November Sales

Also choosing to align with a trendy personality, Kohl’s featured a remix of Rebecca Black’s earworm “Friday” single in a TV spot promoting its Black Friday sale.
The conversation about this campaign was comparatively smaller than Macy’s with 7,653 opinions. Although fewer in number, these consumers had a strong message to send to Kohl’s.

Though the choice of Rebecca Black drove the largest amount of conversation, 93% of that volume was negative. In fact, this character choice caused a revolt on social media: on November 22nd, almost a quarter of the volume expressed a desire to disengage from Kohl’s—three days before Black Friday.
This desire to disengage persisted for more than four weeks after Black Friday. Kohl’s did manage to achieve higher share of voice during key shopping periods, but net sentiment around Kohl’s was significantly more unfavorable than Macy’s.

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When the numbers came in, Kohl’s disappointed, reporting that November 2011 sales dropped by 6.2%.

Measuring Consumer Sentiment Delivers Insight Into Brand Affinity

As we’ve learned, celebrity alignment can be problematic. This decision, as with any public endorsement, carries substantial risk during key shopping periods and must be done right. The case of Macy’s vs. Kohl’s shows us how social media can be a vehicle for a revenue-draining rebellion when the incorrect choice is made.
If you want to learn more about insight into brand affinity, brand loyalty and consumer migration, Crimson Hexagon recently published an in-depth study on the “showrooming” phenomenon, which explores consumer expectations of in-store vs. online shopping. Click here to download our complimentary Showrooming and Consumer Migration ebook.

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