How hype analysis lets companies find value in customer excitement

Woman screaming with excitement

Moving beyond social listening, hype analysis aims to harness online fandom communities and AI to better understand the emotional momentum underlying consumer reactions to brands, products and other aspects of culture.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in Quirk’s Magazine and was co-authored by PK Lawton, Chief Strategy Officer at Sister Merci and Marcelo Bursztein, CEO at NovaceneAI.

What’s the buzz?

What gets customers excited about a product? What are they anticipating before it even goes to market? What is it about a product that generates the most buzz? Marketers can now potentially unlock the answers to these questions through a new way of analyzing data: hype analysis.

Hype analysis revolves around the strategy of understanding the pathways to significant anticipation and enthusiasm among consumer-driven communities of interest that have become key to driving the hype that surrounds a brand, service or product by imbuing these with community status. Integral to hype analysis is the growing power of internet communities of fans or followers who collectively form a fandom. These niche fandoms constitute a community of devoted enthusiasts deeply involved with the brand, product or franchise. 

Drawing on Zoe Scaman’s trailblazing insights in her Substack post “The new formula for fandom,” our hype analysis methodology highlights the evolution of fandom into an essential cultural and commercial asset across diverse areas such as fashion, music, sports and other burgeoning sectors. Following Scaman’s work, the core of our hype analysis is deepened by the integration of community, autonomy and equity. This shift points to a future of more inventive and cooperative community involvement, driven by algorithmic interest networks, the development of highly specialized niches and social infrastructures. 

This approach is a fresh way to understand and incorporate the role of community in marketing beyond seeing them as a place to serve programmatic ads. By understanding what drives communities, we can do a better job of forming bonds and co-creating with the most passionate individuals.

Hype analysis can offer brands actionable insights into fandom, letting marketers and researchers understand and quantify the what, why and how happening in fan and consumer conversations in social media and popular online communities like Reddit. The driving force behind hype analysis is the power of AI and natural language processing to analyze large amounts of this chatter into patterns and turn them into actionable insights.

In this article, we delve into how hype analysis can help market researchers and brands, its potential advantages over social listening and how AI makes it all possible.

Excitement drives sales

It’s safe to say that hype, or excitement, drives sales and brand engagement. Products that successfully generate positive hype can sell out rapidly due to increased consumer demand, whereas those that fail to create or sustain hype might suffer from slower sales, discounting, product returns or negative market reception.

Hype analysis involves using AI to track, combine, classify and analyze consumer and fan conversations to understand their impact on product demand and sales performance – helping marketers and analysts gain insights into the mechanisms by which hype drives or hinders market success. When customers are excited about a new product on the market, often underpinned by an influencer marketing campaign, they will flock to social media and online communities like Reddit or TikTok to discuss this product with others who share their interest. Potential customers will use search engines to learn more about it. If the campaign is a real success, it will spill over into mainstream media coverage.

All of online buzz provides a rich tapestry of insights for market researchers. It captures the fan community sentiment from a product’s most engaged and knowledgeable audience and reflects organic consumer reactions, giving brands a holistic view of a product’s perception. 

In addition, hype analysis involves recognizing that different consumer categories have distinct factors driving their hype. For example, coffee enthusiasts often discuss product quality, scrutinizing every aspect to inform their purchasing decisions. In contrast, the sneaker community’s hype is propelled by a mix of early leaks, influencer endorsements and the intentional scarcity of products. 

When analysts acknowledge the specific drivers of excitement in each category, they can better predict market trends and identify key levers for generating and sustaining hype. These levers include messaging and search engine optimization. 

Making sense of qualitative and quantitative data with AI

Hype is measurable through both qualitative and quantitative means. Qualitative analysis involves analyzing language to understand concepts, opinions or experiences. It helps marketers understand what consumers think and, most importantly, why they think these things. 

Quantitative analysis involves objective measurements and the statistical, mathematical or numerical analysis of social data metrics (social media mentions, review scores and search engine queries) and answers to surveys. For researchers, it can be expensive, time-consuming and taxing to measure hype from these multiple data sources, let alone classify it and find hidden patterns. Hype analysis, therefore, must rely on AI, large language models (LLMs) and natural language processing to reveal the why behind the numbers. Tools that combine generative with classical AI can unlock capabilities when it comes to hype analysis. These tools can analyze conversations and online mentions – including positive and negative reviews within fan communities, the frequency of these mentions and organic search volume – and quickly extract information about what people are saying about a product. 

In addition, AI can help analysts ask questions from the data using plain language – including questions that combine both qual and quant metrics – substantially reducing the time to insight. The latest AI platforms let analysts verify the AI-generated insights for accuracy by tracing the AI claims back to the datapoints that underpin the insights, effectively mitigating the misleading hallucinations that are intrinsic to even the most sophisticated LLMs and gen AI tools.

While AI takes care of the data analysis, market researchers and brands can use hype analysis to focus on what’s most important: engaging with consumers and building loyalty.

Emotional and psychological triggers 

Hype analysis offers marketers and researchers a data-driven toolkit for understanding consumer behavior, predicting market trends and crafting effective marketing strategies. First, it analyzes the source and nature of hype, giving researchers valuable consumer insight. Hype analysis reveals the emotional and psychological triggers behind consumer enthusiasm, which allows for more tailored and resonant marketing messages. Additionally, it can help create targeted marketing campaigns – identifying the most effective channels and messages to reach audiences. By knowing where the conversation is happening and what resonates with their target consumers, brands can craft campaigns that are more likely to capture attention and generate excitement.

Hype analysis also helps analysts identify emerging trends before they become mainstream. When researchers can monitor the early signs of consumer interest and excitement, they can forecast market shifts, helping companies stay ahead of the curve in product development and marketing strategies.

Additionally, market researchers can use hype analysis to better understand what aspects of a product generate the most buzz. These insights can inform product development and innovation and help companies focus on features in future iterations or new products that align more closely with consumer desires and expectations.

When it comes to reputation management, hype analysis can serve as a tool for assessing emerging risks associated with new product launches or marketing campaigns. Researchers can understand the negative aspects of hype, such as consumer skepticism or a backlash against perceived over-marketing, allowing their companies to adjust their strategies proactively.

In addition, hype analysis can support influencer and partnership strategies by identifying key influencers and analyzing their content, which can contribute to building hype and optimizing influencer and collaborative efforts. Marketing budgets can then be allocated to the most impactful collaborations and promotional activities.

Ultimately, timing is everything, and hype analysis can guide brands in choosing the best moment to unveil new products to maximize media coverage and social buzz by understanding when and how consumer excitement peaks. 

Hype analysis is also useful when it comes to brand positioning and differentiation. By understanding what drives hype in their industry, brands can position themselves to stand out in a crowded market. Insights from hype analysis can reveal unique angles for differentiation, whether through product innovation, marketing messaging or customer experience enhancements. Furthermore, when market researchers understand the mechanics of hype around other products, they can help give their client a competitive edge. Hype analysis on the competition helps companies adopt successful strategies from other sectors while also avoiding pitfalls that led to failures within other companies.

Hype analysis vs. social listening

Until recently, the primary means of accessing vast amounts of community-level data was through social listening tools. These tools provide marketers with a comprehensive overview of consumer activities across various social media platforms, despite limitations such as the restricted access to data within the “walled gardens” of Facebook and Instagram, among other online forums. By capturing real-time conversations, sentiments and trends, social listening has been invaluable in understanding the discourse within micro-communities on brands, products, competitors and industry-related topics. 

However, while effective in outlining the what (what is being said about a brand), the who (who is discussing the brand) and, to an extent, the where (which channels are being used for the discussions), it doesn’t unpack the underlying excitement or momentum driving these discussions – a task that still requires a great deal of manual work from a trained analyst. 

Hype analysis delves deeper into understanding consumer perspectives by focusing on the how and why behind their evaluations of brands and products. It zeroes in on the ways consumer audiences and relevant niche communities perceive and integrate brands, products or services into their lives. This approach, powered by AI-driven qualitative analysis, lets researchers uncover the reasons underlying a brand’s momentum or lack thereof. By examining how these communities and engaged consumers make sense of a brand’s role, hype analysis can simplify the analytical process by decoding the values and expectations within these communities.

This approach provides a detailed perspective on brand perception, facilitating an in-depth exploration of consumer attitudes and behaviors. It can liberate analysts to delve into the nuances of attitudes, motivations and shifts within communities that brands face daily. By focusing on the factors that drive consumer interest and their influence on market dynamics, this method can offer marketers a unique edge. It allows for a thorough analysis of the specific elements that fuel consumer engagement, assisting brands in crafting marketing strategies that resonate with their audience’s motivations and aspirations.

Hype analysis not only enhances marketing precision but can also improve demand forecasting by analyzing the buildup of excitement prior to a product launch or event. This predictive capacity allows companies to fine-tune their supply chain and marketing tactics, positioning them to seize market opportunities proactively. Furthermore, by exploring the depth of consumer enthusiasm and its roots, hype analysis empowers companies to replicate success or circumvent failures in future initiatives, offering a strategic edge in understanding and leveraging consumer excitement.

Opening the promise of big data

Market researchers have an enormous amount of data available at their fingertips but have struggled to generate actionable insights from it. Hype analysis, made possible by AI and LLMs, combined with natural language processing, opens up the promise of big data – which has been a marketing industry topic of conversation for well over a decade – and puts the tools of analysis in the hands of people who don’t hold advanced degrees in mathematics or chaos theory. With the speed of development on AI, we are just scratching the surface of its vast capabilities in hype analysis and marketing research.