Understanding Why the White Lotus is Winning Viewers

The White Lotus is rapidly capturing the attention of online audiences and could be poised to be 2021’s Tiger King. Why is this series winning so many viewers and such extensive online buzz – and what can brands learn from it? Let’s explore.

Consumers feel strongly about characters in books and shows – that’s nothing new. But the level of passion consumers feel about specific characters is what separates wildly successful series from the moderate fan following most experience. And White Lotus seems to have tapped into that passion, much like last year’s predecessor, the Tiger King.  Analyzing the conversations powering top mentions reveals consumer values and offers an “in” for savvy brands.

White Lotus Infographic

Understanding Viewer Mentions

With a spike in mentions happening immediately following the show’s finale, there was lots to be said about and to the series writer, Mike White. And viewers were split with kudos and complaints.


And then Jennifer Coolidge is a fan favorite thanks to her previous roles, including playing Stifler’s mom in American Pie. Here, as Tanya McQuoid, we see the evolution of her highly versatile persona, with a role that have viewers raving – and squirming.


Beyond those two dominating our top ten mentions though, the cast of characters that follow resonate with audiences for a variety of reasons beyond the fan following – important reasons that brands should be paying attention to and folding into relevant marketing efforts. With storylines exploring weighty themes that feel ripped from the headlines, but with a privileged twist, the lens has shifted and what it reveals (by way of viewer reactions) is important. It can act as confirmation of a particular effort, or a data point to support further change. Let’s look!

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Themes Capturing Viewers Attention

The overarching themes explored in the series touch on a variety of hot topics, including privilege, race, lgbtq+ challenges, generational gaps, family dynamics, personal communications, and so much more. We’ll analyze a few and the resulting conversation, along with ways this intel can apply to brands. And we’ll do it without spoilers, as it’s a great show to watch!


Privilege Put Under Microscope

From the first moment we see the cast, the observation of how awful we can expect them to be sets our expectations. Armond, the hotel manager, played by Murray Bartlett, shows us the face of civility and acceptance of his role. He plays up to his entitled clientele and mocks them at every turn. Unsurprisingly, we can all relate to this subterfuge and the desire to avoid or create desired outcomes with expected interactions.

Yet, when brands survey people they expect unbiased, helpful feedback even though we know people are motivated by any number of factors in a given moment. A dissatisfied customer seeking a discount will have very different feedback from one who may have hopes of promoting your product as a micro-influencer.

Neither will offer unbiased intel that should drive your messaging nor possibly inform new product ideation – but you won’t necessarily know that either lens applies – so your survey data is intrinsically flawed. Capturing online interactions happening naturally between relevant parties offers much more value insight. The voice of the customer is elusive without targeted listening.

Race Impacting Every Interaction

And then, looking at the underbelly of every meaningful interaction happening, we see race and socioeconomic status making waves at the island resort. The ultimate girl boss, Nicole Mossbacher, played by Connie Britton is in sharp contrast to the struggling and self-aware character Natasha Rothwell plays, Belinda.

From these interactions, brands have a good bit they can take away. They need to pay close attention to unintentional ways they disenfranchise various segments of consumers seeking their services. And this requires ongoing social media monitoring to understand sensitivities and create space for those who are typically overlooked in favor of assumed audiences.


Generational Gaps Out in the Open

And finally, one of the biggest disconnects we see throughout come to us courtesy of the two college students offering running – and biting – commentary about the other resort guests. Olivia Mossbacher (played by Syndey Sweeney) and her ‘friend’ Paula (Brittany O’Grady).

The perceptions that these two young women share about everything and everyone at the resort are startling, raw and often at odds with Olivia’s well-heeled Gen X parents. And this disconnect is neither exaggerated nor unique in the real world. Brands must understand these differences – deeply. And not just from a superficial “age” context, as psychographic differentiators matter a good bit as well, but having a sense of different generations using your products is important.


The Gen Z boy is not likely to be enticed by the same messaging that would attract a middle-aged mom to your amazing body lotion, but it may be an equally viable offering for both. Finding unique pain points, influencers and messaging that resonates with each is not easy, but it’s also not as difficult as many brands make it.

The intel is all there, online, waiting for you to read and absorb it into your messaging. Or you can continue catering to one generalized clientele and miss out on the Olivia and Paulas that drive viral messaging via Instagram posts and generationally relevant emojis.

Reach out for a demo and we’ll show you how to capture all variety of consumers, with messaging that resonates with every group you wish to reach, along with ways to build popular TV show lore into your messaging to further drive engagements!

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