Research Uncovers C-Suite’s “Surprising” Thought Leadership Consumption Behavior

June 19, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Connected Device Comparisons | Content Marketing | Digital | Magazines | Mobile Phone | Tablet

Recent studies have illustrated the impact of thought leadership with business decision-makers and how companies can stand out in a sea of noise. Now, a report [download page] from Forbes Insights and the Deloitte Center for Industry Insights provides additional context, demonstrating the formats that CXOs prefer. The results, as noted by the authors, are sometimes “surprising.”

Busy Execs Prefer… Longer-Form Content?

While one could easily assume that C-suite executives would favor easily digestible content, that doesn’t appear to be the case, at least for this particular sample of almost 300 executives participating in the survey.

Instead, when presented with 11 formats for business insights and asked to choose their preferred, the top 2 spots went to longer-form content: feature-length articles and reports (22%) and business books (21%).

Close behind, 18% pointed to interactive data visualization tools. Videos were favored by just 4%, with podcasts, blogs and infographics also of marginal appeal in this context.

Those findings are supported by one of the above-referenced studies that, for its part, found B2B decision-makers more likely to see short-form 3-4 page documents (71%) as important in getting them to engage with thought leadership than snackable media that can be digested in 1-2 minutes (53%) or short-form 3-4 minute videos (45%).

Analysis contained in the Forbes Insights report does point out that snackable content doesn’t necessarily lack value, but rather that shorter pieces of content act as “teasers” for more learning.

Print or Digital? It Depends

With the accessibility afforded by digital media, one might be forgiven for believing that business insights are more commonly consumed online. But that isn’t always the case.

CXOs responding to the study believe that general news media and business publications typically product the most valuable content. And when it comes to these sources, online formats (39%) get the preference edge over offline (32%) formats.

The same is found for consulting and other professional services firms, which are also highly rated for their content – as CXOs are almost twice as likely to prefer consuming these firms’ insights online (44%) than offline (23%).

But when it comes to management journals – as highly rated as consulting and professional services firms for their content – the preferences switch, as more prefer to read these sources offline (37%) than online (26%).

Given executives’ proclivity for longer-form content, separate results from the survey also are notable. Asked how likely they are to use various devices or formats to read a 4-5 page report or white paper that includes 2-3 charts, respondents reported being more likely to take prints and read the content offline (84%) than to use a PC (75%), tablet (70%) or smartphone (59%).

In fact, half of the CXOs surveyed said that it remains important to them to read business insights in print.


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