Discovery's acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive instantly boosted its appeal to women as HGTV and Food Network are "must-have" channels for this demographic. It also established the industry's largest home for lifestyle, fact-based and unscripted entertainment content. At the first Upfront of the "new Discovery" (Discovery, Inc.) in early April, Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav noted that, "we don't have viewers; we have fans," and promised advertisers that the combined entity boasts brands that people love and are passionate about.
To better own and understand what interests, drives and concerns women today, Manu Singh, the network's Group Vice President, Commercial Insights & Digital, oversaw a new study titled Her View. The survey of 1,200 women ages 18-plus uncovered some of the following fresh findings the company will use to inform advertisers, as well as programming decisions.
The Story Around Women Is One of Positivity
Most women today feel positive about how their life is going and rate it a 7 on a 10-point scale (from awful to fantastic). While they are moderately stressed, 73% were optimistic about personal happiness. Simple things matter, including: listening to music, reading, cooking/baking, watching TV and traveling. An impressive 80% are satisfied with their family life.
They are feeling more confident about the future of females. More than half say they will see a female President and Vice President of the U.S. in their lifetime. While they are optimistic about more women in management and STEM, they are not satisfied with the representation of women in media, the workplace, politics or advertising.
It is interesting that the media attention paid to # MeToo did not translate to personal relevance. Nearly 40% of women 18-64 surveyed said #MeToo is irrelevant to them personally while 25% of women 18-34 found little to no personal connection to the movement.
"It was assuring to see that generally women are feeling positive about their lives, and their futures -- especially given some of the more negative stories that are dominating the news and cultural conversations," Singh said. "We were surprised to see that some of the recent movements and hashtag campaigns are not personally resonating with these women."
Her Values Matter
Honesty, trustworthiness and love are most valued by women, and they align with the top ways they describe themselves -- honest, trustworthy and open-minded. A woman's sense of identity is most closely tied with her morals and ethics (82%) and her perseverance in the face of challenges (69%), more so than gender (51%), race (38%) or occupation (29%).
Three quarters say that family time is a priority and "mom" was named most frequently as their role model. Eighty percent say that enjoying life is most important, followed by 77% who identified pride in their actions.
For a majority of women, food is identified as an important part of their lives. Sixty-one percent consider cooking/baking to be a productive way to escape daily life stressors. Virtually all women have a role in decision-making when it comes to food-related purchases.
Social Media Is Necessary But Not a "Feel Good" Relationship
One in three women agree that social media is an important part of their lives. Over 25% can't imagine their lives without it (37% for Millennials). With that said, 21% admit they are addicted to social media. Millennials get hit hardest here, with 40% finding social media overwhelming and stressful.
It bothers over 60% of women to think that their social media activity is tracked by advertisers. Forty-five percent believe it is to blame in spreading "fake news."
What Women Want (from TV)
As noted earlier, watching TV contributes to her happiness (65%), and for seven in 10 women it is a form of escape. Women want shows that entertain and help them to relax (see chart below). They are much less interested in programming that is shocking or controversial (17%).
Discovery Networks Content Connects with Her
The survey shows that in an average month, more than 75% of women 25-54 watch at least one Discovery channel on linear or digital -- more than any other cable entertainment portfolio in the U.S. (Source: Nielsen). Food Network, Discovery Channel, HGTV, Animal Planet and Travel Channel resonate with women by delivering high-quality content, focused on the topics and activities that make them happy. When asked to rate networks1 along several affinity metrics (e.g., represents who they are, impacted their lives by adding value, is for someone like me, delivers high-quality content) Discovery networks consistently come out on top.
Her View research reinforces that the Discovery lifestyle networks are resonating with women and connecting with them at the core. Trusted, real-life content that is fact-based works. Trusted, real-life content that is fact-based works. “In the face of a growing 'trust crisis' across media, we saw from the study the tremendous value women place on authentic messaging and time with their families. We will continue to connect with women by providing real, relatable, high-quality content that is not only trustworthy but also family safe. And, as experts in the spaces of travel and cooking (other key sources of happiness) we are uniquely positioned to provide content and experiences that enhance the lives of women today."
"We're fortunate to be in a sweet spot with our lifestyle networks," added Jon Steinlauf, Chief U.S. Advertising Sales Officer at Discovery. "Not only do they enjoy healthy ratings, but all our research points toward the fact that viewers aren't just tuning in -- they are engaged with the content and feel good about it. Time and again female viewers say that our brands enrich their lives, and this study reaffirms that notion."
Discovery will build on the trusted relationship it has with female audiences (and their families) by aligning with their core values -- being honest and authentic. Co-viewing is an important strategy to grow fandom as it builds family relationships with moms front and center. Other actionable learnings from this research include the need for a thoughtful and organic approach to social media extensions of programming to ensure that this distribution outlet rings true.
The tentpoles of Discovery including food, travel, core family values and science all have a place in the hearts and homes of women across America. With competition everywhere and the plethora of choices available, the fact that much of Discovery programming is watched live can only benefit advertisers seeking real-time impact. Stay tuned for more insights from Her View.
1Options included USA, Hallmark, Investigation Discovery, OWN, TLC, Lifetime, TBS, Bravo, Oxygen, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.
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