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Power of Positivity

Power of Positivity

In Brief

This study looks at the power of positivity, its benefit to consumers and its impact for advertisers.

Against a backdrop of increasing negativity in society, the news and social media there has never been a greater need for positivity. The growing field of positive psychology is starting to identify the many benefits that having a positive mindset can bring. Research suggests a link between positive emotions and better health, a longer life and greater emotional and physical wellbeing.

There is power in positive thinking. A positive mindset can make us more open-minded to new ideas and therefore more resourceful and resilient. In her 2009 book Positivity, Barbara Frederickson suggests that when threatened with negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, frustration or anger, the mind constricts and focuses on the imposing threat, limiting our ability to be open to new ideas.

So, positivity is undoubtedly good for people. But can it be good for brands? Barbara Frederickson’s experiment suggests that there could be an amplification effect of communicating with people at times when they are likely to be in a positive mindset.

And this is where magazine media comes in.

Magnetic’s Moment’s That Matter study shows that magazine moments deliver a 6% uplift in subjective wellbeing.

Magazine media is seen to be a reprieve from the constant attention switching and distractions of our busy lives so Theobalds Road set out to test the hypothesis for Hearst.

The Power of Positivity study asked a nationally representative study of 1000 people whether they had taken action or considered taking an action as a result of seeing or hearing something in the media. This could range from talking to a friend about what they had seen to buying a product that they had seen or heard about.

Key Findings

  • Amongst people with a positive outlook on life 77% of people took some form of action, amongst those with a negative or neutral attitude it was 63%
  • People with a positive mindset carried out more actions. Those with a positive mindset carried out an average of three actions, whereas people with a negative or neutral mindset carried out an average of two
  • The study replicates a famous experiment by Friedman and Förster to demonstrate how manipulating mood can influence response, in this case to advertising. This new experiment reveals that participants in a positive condition showed higher levels of brand favourability after exposure to ads than those in neutral and negative conditions
  • Research from MediaCom Business Science has shown that a 1%-point increase in brand consideration can drive a 0.8% increase in sales over the longer term. Which suggests that advertising consumed in a positive mindset can result in a 1.6% incremental sales uplift versus advertising consumed in a neutral mindset
  • Magazines are a positive medium. 77% of respondents feel positive when reading magazines, more so than for newspapers (67%), radio (75%) and social media (59%)
  • Magazine readers are more positive than non-readers. 58% of respondents in the study have a positive outlook on life. Amongst magazine readers this figure is significantly higher at 68%. Amongst magazine non-readers it is 53%

Implications for Advertisers

Magazines provide readers with content that makes them feel good and motivates and inspires them, they put them in a mindset that is positive, receptive, and open to new ideas and opportunities. What advertiser wouldn’t want to communicate with an audience like that?

This research has shown that:

  1. Media is a vehicle that can drive positivity and create a positive mindset
  2. Magazines are viewed as being better than other media brands at driving attributes that contribute to positivity
  3. Viewing advertising when in a positive mindset can have an amplification effect on brand favourability and can significantly increase consideration. So much so that advertising viewed in a positive mindset can drive a 1.6% incremental sales uplift versus advertising seen in a neutral mindset
  4. Magazine readers have a more positive outlook than non-readers

You can see the original release on the Hearst website here