Too Cool For School – Consumer Attitudes and HBO

john oliver

Attitudes are learned predisposition to behave in a consistently favorable or unfavorable way with respect to a given object and can be learned from direct experience with the product, word-of-mouth, exposure to mass media and other information sources.  For HBO, this would come from those consumers who have already purchased an HBO premium subscription choosing whether or not it is still worth it and sharing their experiences with others.  Attitudes may also be formed by those who may not have purchased a subscription yet but have still interacted with the brand, and of course by all those consumers who have seen advertising or reviews of HBO products and services.

Using the tri-component model, we can analyze the effectiveness of HBO’s brand in creating a positive attitude within the general consumer.

The first step of this process is the Cognitive Component. Cognitions are knowledge and perceptions that are acquired by a combination of direct experience with the attitude object and related information from various sources.  To clarify, these elements are those beliefs about a brand that come from a consumers personal interaction with HBO and the information it has gathered through both formal sources such as advertisements and articles, and informal sources like word-of-mouth.

Based on the consistently high ratings for HBO shows like True Blood and Boardwalk Empire – HBO does fairly well in this department.  There is always more of the market share to be had, but those who use HBO services seem to stay loyal and be growing in number.  We have discussed in the past how HBO market’s itself as a premium experience and therefore must continue to provide the high quality programming and services it has promised.  But, as profits have shown, if it continues to do this, the cognitive component of this model has been adequately fulfilled.

The second stage of this process is the affective component. The affective component of an attitude consists of the consumer’s emotions or feelings which are considered evaluations.  This means that any negative cognitive experiences a consumer has may be more easily recalled, and similarly with the positive experiences depending on the consumer’s overall attitude towards the brand.  Personally, in relation to HBO this reminds me of the public’s reaction to the scene with The Red Wedding in season 3 of Game of Thrones.  Without spoiling the plot, I can say that viewers had a very emotional and passionate reaction to the events in that episode.  However, although the actions in the scene could not be considered positive, I would call this a high point for the affective component of HBO’s Brand.  It showcased the level of content that consumers expect from HBO programming and they had an emotional reaction to it.

Also in relation to this would be customer service.  This is a moment when a consumer is having an issue or has a question and any brand has the opportunity to turn it into a positive or negative experience.  Based on my research, there is not a lot of information publicly available about the HBO customer service process.  However, they can be reached – here – and I think that it is still worth discussing how important that element is to the consumer experience.  A brand that has positioned itself as a luxury, as HBO has, needs to take this process very seriously because its customers still expect the premium treatment.

The final stage of the tri-component model is Conation, or the likelihood or tendency that an individual will undertake a specific action or behave in a particular way with regard to the attitude object.  In relation to HBO, I would say this is the likelihood of a viewer to choose to watch HBO programming, the likelihood of a viewer to purchase or renew a subscription to the brand, and the likelihood of the viewer to recommend the brand to others.

HBO is now at an established point where it is trying to gain new subscribers and slowly gain more of the media market.  Therefore, the conation element is important because after the attitude towards the brand has been gained in the cognitive phase, and emotionally interpreted in the affective phase, it is now time for the consumer to act.  If HBO fails to take the positive attitudes consumers may have towards its products and turn these into actual sales and views, then they would have a major problem.

In the end, I think HBO is doing pretty well.  I wish that more information was available on how to reach them for customer service, but this model explains how an HBO consumer would develop its attitude towards the brand, and how new consumers may be persuaded to join.  I think understanding this helps a brand like HBO establish what further steps it needs to take to change and extend the brand into its next phase of existence.