Volume IV, December 2011

Behind The Numbers How Large Is The “Cord Cutting” Phenomenon?

TV execs are twitching as they note a growing trend among subscribers to drop television but keep high-speed Internet access for watching TV programming. Although the current number of cord cutting households is low, it does appear to be a slowly growing trend. Nearly 8% of U.S. households do not subscribe to cable, digital, satellite or fiber optic TV, but do have high-speed Internet, according to GfK MRI's Fall 2011 Survey of the American Consumer.

That percent was almost 7% in the Fall 2010 Survey and just under 6% in 2009. Even though the vast majority of households (83%) still buy cable, digital or satellite TV, the increase in cord cutting households indicates that this is a phenomenon programmers and cable MSOs are wise to watch closely, since it may impact revenue from monthly cable subscriptions.

TV and Internet use

It seems safe to say that most, if not all, consumers living in households without TV but with high-speed Internet watch television online. Consumers who live in cord cutting households are heavy online users, indexing 170 for being in the highest Internet quintile. They also are more likely than typical adults to use the Internet for viewing movies and TV programs:

  • Watched a movie online — Index 307
  • Downloaded a TV program — Index 296
  • Watched a TV program online — Index 276
  • Downloaded a movie — Index 275

More telling, they index 334 for visiting the online video service Hulu.com in the last 30 days.

Although frugality is surely part of the impetus to become a Cord Cutter (who likes to pay for content when they can get it for free?), it may not be the whole story. Cord Cutters might also be motivated by portability and the “wow factor” of new technology. For instance, they have an index of 181 for having watched a movie, TV program or other video on their mobile phones in the last 30 days.

Who cuts the cord?

Cord Cutters are more likely than adults, as a whole, to be young, Asian, well educated and reside in the Pacific marketing region.

Demos of Consumers Living in Cord Cutting Households
Demographics Index
Asian 233
Age 25-34 170
Pacific Marketing Region 152
Education - Post graduate 141
Age 18-24 129
Age 35-44 120
Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2011

Please contact us to learn more about cord cutters.

Julie Says, "Do This, Not That" Watch Your Weight!

Julie Erbe
GfK MRI Manager /
Web Training &
Advertiser Services

When analyzing GfK MRI data, you have a choice between using either household or population weights. Using either of these weights will not give you an index that’s markedly different—in most cases—but the projected counts will be about half. And in most cases, only one weight is the correct one to use.

Some background: One adult in each household in GfK MRI's sample completes the in-person media interview and is given the product usage self-administered questionnaire. In six of ten instances, this respondent fills out the entire questionnaire. However, when the respondent is not the principal shopper for the household, she/he is directed to ask the main buyer of household items/groceries in the home to answer the household products portion of the questionnaire.

When to use household weight

Use the household weight when looking for information that can only be defined by household, such as average household income or median value of home owned … or when you want the number of U.S. households to be your divisor. Since we interview one respondent per home, in many cases we ask for information that pertains to the entire household, such as HHI (household income), number of children and number of adults in the household. Another example: the household weight should be used for any household product information given by principal shopper.

When to use population weighting

Population weighting should be used for analyses that relate to a personal trait, such as personal product usage, media exposure or attitudes. Most of the questions in the GfK MRI database are directed to and answered by the respondent. They relate to respondents' product usage or exposure to media, as well as all attitudinal/lifestyle information. A household weight would therefore be inappropriate for any of the personal product, media usage or attitudinal data—one person’s consumption only reflects household consumption in a single person household. This is also true of the personal information asked of the principal shopper. Although the principal shopper gives us household product information, they also give their personal product, media and attitudinal information, so use the population weighting when looking for personal information about principal shoppers.

Population Weighting Gives Correct Projected Counts for Magazines Read by Charcoal Buyers
Magazine Population Weighting
Projected Count (000)
Population Weighting
Household Weighting Projected Count (000) Household Weighting Index Difference in Projected Count (000)
Ebony 3170 192 1772 194 -1398
Field & Stream 1306 149 - - -1306
ESPN The Magazine 2220 153 1153 157 -1067
Essence 2251 181 1284 184 -967
Diabetic Cooking 1938 162 1002 163 -936
Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer Fall 2011

VALs weighting

The VALs weighting must always be used if you are using the VALs battery of questions in your analyses. These data are tabulated by a third party, and that weighting must be used to accurately reflect the demographic characteristics of the VALs respondents.

Learn more about GfK MRI data—best practices, common mistakes, advanced uses and more by attending GfK MRI's online webinars, led by me—Julie Erbe.

Please send me a note if you would like to attend the webinars but have not received evites.

New And Noteworthy GfK MRI Participates In An AWNY Panel Discussion On The Impact Of Tablets On Print

Reaching digital consumers occupies much of ad executives’ thinking these days. Publishers are re-envisioning their content, advertisers are adding Tablet components to RFPs and agencies are re-inventing pricing models for planning and buying digital media.

The ways in which Tablets are sparking changes in the print industry was the topic at a recent AWNY (Advertising Women of New York) panel discussion. The consensus: Tablet adoption has brought about a shift in time spent and emotional engagement with magazines and newspapers. Plus, a new set of consumers is engaging with Tablets, creating a growth opportunity for magazines. All this feeds into the sense of urgency to standardize metrics for measuring readership on Tablets.

Also key — as adoption increases, publishers must heed the mantra "content is king." Since consumers increasingly connect to the brand: content should be holistic across digital and print and it should be aligned throughout all touchpoints.

Moderator: Wenda Harris Millard, President and COO MediaLink, LLC. Panelists: Risa Becker, SVP Research, GfK MRI; Avi Zimak, Advertising Director, Hearst Tablet Media; Christine Cook, SVP Advertising Sales, The Daily; Jessica Peltz, VP, Integrated Media Director, Zenith Media Risa Becker, SVP Research, GfK MRI

GfK MRI SVP of Research Risa Becker was among the panelists who discussed these and other points. She presented insights from GfK MRI's iPanel, a survey comprised exclusively of Tablet and eReader owners. A few iPanel findings:

  • 86% of Tablet owners and 76% of eReader owners say they use their device on an average day.
  • 53% of Tablet owners and 69% of eReader owners don't share their device, potentially impacting the probability of pass-along digital readership.
  • App downloads do not necessarily result in more app usage. Only 37% of owners who have ten or more apps regularly use them.

Please contact us to learn more about the GfK MRI iPanel.

2011 Christmas Bonus Reindeer Logistical Optimization Cites Dallas As First Stop On 2011 Trek

Santa, Inc. has announced to its executive committee the results of their Reindeer Logistical Optimization for 2011. After commissioning GfK MRI to provide key market intelligence for this year's optimization plan, Mr. Claus assigned a team of analytical elves to use Market-by-Market data from top markets to identify the best places for kids to live during Christmas and to determine routes the reindeer will follow.

The Logistical Optimization was derived from GfK MRI attitudinal data pertaining to "gift-give-a-tude potential" demonstrated by parents in top markets. Findings have directed Mr. Claus' team to schedule gift distribution in Dallas as the first drop-off destination, clearly the top spot to be a child this year. After Dallas, the team will visit households in LA followed by a long, sleepless trek for chimney drop-offs in New York.

Dallas Ranks #1
Gift-Give-A-Tude Potential
Attitudes Dallas
I like to shower my loved ones with gifts. 116 - -
Children have a right to be spoiled. 114 136 -
My children have a significant impact on the brands I choose. - 130 110
Source: GfK MRI Market-by-Market
Base: Households with children

Gift-give-a-tude rankings show that parents in Dallas are more likely than typical moms and dads to agree completely with two psychographic statements indicating (A.) the enjoyment they get from showering loved ones with gifts and (B.) their sentiments that children have a right to be spoiled.

"We deliver to the best areas first so our happiest kids will tweet, text and get children in other markets excited," said Claus via Skype. "Even I cannot underestimate the power of social media."

While LA parents are even more likely than Dallas moms and dads to agree on the spoiling point, they also over-index for saying their children influence the brands they purchase. However, the optimization algorithm does not weight this factor as heavily. "Since brand purchase behaviors do not necessarily reflect gift-giving potential, I wouldn't put much weight on those findings," said GfK MRI EVP Mike Drankwalter who is moonlighting as the Grinch this year.