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BET CEO Debra Lee Everything Depends on the Consumer
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BET CEO Debra Lee Everything Depends on the Consumer

Debra Lee

Early in her presentation at Consumer 360, BET Networks CEO Debra Lee quoted Theodore Levitt who noted: “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” This resonated with Lee particularly because several years ago, BET knew they weren’t quite hitting the mark with their consumers. “Making that realization was the easy part,” she said. “Doing the rebranding work was hard.” That hard work took the form of a comprehensive study of their audience, and also a new brand strategy that examined “who we are, what we do and how we do it,” noted Lee. The study, African Americans Revealed, touched on every piece of content, on air, on line and on mobile and set out to better understand the current concerns and future aspirations of their audience.

By taking a deep dive into the study, BET was better able to understand the nuances of their audience segments (“the African American is not monolithic” she reminded the audience). That understanding enabled BET to refine content and deliver more informed insights to their advertiser.

Lee identified key segments that make up 85 percent of the African American audience.

  1. STRIVERS – An ambitious group of opinion leaders aged 20-40. These young leaders are rising in their communities and the corporate world.
  2. CONSCIOUS SISTERS – These are women who are keen on aspects of their culture and spirituality. They focus on family and cooking meals at home.
  3. TECHFLUENTIALS – World ambassadors aged 20-30 who are making the world a little smaller using technology, organizing fundraisers online, using skype, social media and more.
  4. BRIGHT HORIZONS This tech-savvy segment is focused on education and friends, gaming, mobile and social media.

Lee made the distinction that these groups are always evolving and people move in and out of them frequently.

The benefit of this comprehensive research is that it enabled BET to win on several key new scripted series and live events like the BET Awards. On the advertising front, the work helped BET connect specific products and advertisers to more specific segments of consumers and it had a major impact on informing BET’s social strategy. Moving forward, BET is expanding social for key shows and events this year, along with recent international expansion in Africa and Europe.

Amid all the data, Lee noted another valuable lesson: “We have to take advantage of the passion our audience has. If we provide them the programming and the social aspects they crave, we know they’ll stick with us.”