We have well established that HBO markets itself as a premium company with high quality programming and overall customer experience. But, if you have never before seen an HBO show, or are still hesitant to believe subscribing to such a service is worth the cost, how are you to be convinced? One important elements of this choice are your reference groups. Those individuals who influence the consumer and provide a measure of a brands overall credibility.
Source credibility is the impact a brand has on the consumer stemming from its perceived expertise, trustworthiness, and believably. There is much that a brand can do to improve this itself through advertising, customer service, and simply producing a high quality product. But, in order to get the word out to a larger population, the use of opinions and word of mouth from those who have already tried the product or service is essential.
Normative influence is learning and adopting a group’s norms, values, and behaviors. The most pertinent normative influence comes from groups to which people belong, such as family, peers, and other members of one’s community. In our case, this means that you are more likely to watch or try HBO if those who you interact with regularly, and who you trust, also do the same. Which makes sense if you think about it because we as humans like to be in the loop. We like to know what everyone is talking about and feel like we fit in. One small way this can be accomplished is by participating in the same media and entertainment as our peers, friends, and family.
Getting more specific, another reference group that would have a particular influence on potential consumers of HBO would be virtual communities. These are websites that encourage consumers to leave comments and have others respond to them. This way, fans of HBO programming have a place to communicate with one another even if they do not know each other in day to day life. These viewers can bond over a shared interest in the shows and support of the brand, and therefore provide a place for those interested in the service to reach out and get information.
An example of such a community would be Reddit.com/r/HBO.
Another way to build up credibility as a brand through reference groups is the use of celebrity in advertising. Obviously, HBO has a fair amount of great actors and actresses to pull from. However, it is important to remember the diversity of HBO’s programming. For example, below is an advertisement for a special event hosted by HBO that featured Lady Gaga.
In conclusion, although all these methods are important, personally I believe that as an entertainment brand HBO’s best bet on creating a strong reference group for new consumers is to do its job. If the programming is strong and the price remains reasonable, individuals that ask the community if they should participate and get an HBO subscription should receive positive responses.