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15% OF CONSUMERS ACCOUNT FOR 1.5 BILLION BRAND IMPRESSIONS PER DAY, ONE THIRD OF ALL WORD OF MOUTH IN THE U.S.
Women influencers more likely than men to act on word of mouth, study finds
NEW YORK – November 30, 2006 – Fifteen percent of consumers account for 1.5 billion brand impressions per day, according to the results of a new research report released today by the Keller Fay Group, a market research company specializing in word of mouth and sponsored by IM MS&L, the influencer marketing specialty of global public relations firm Manning Selvage & Lee (MS&L).
The report, an in-depth look inside the conversations of top word of mouth (WOM) leaders, is the largest and most comprehensive study of the brand-related conversations of consumer influencers and is the first to provide estimates of the daily volume of word of mouth in the United States.
According to the survey, these 32 million WOM leaders – dubbed “Conversation Catalysts™” by Keller Fay – are involved in 184 word of mouth conversations a week, more than 1.5 times the average consumer. This 15 percent of consumers is responsible for one third of all word of mouth, clearly indicating the disproportionate impact of influencers on WOM. The study also found that the impact of word of mouth is more likely to prompt women to action than men. A full 58 percent of women Catalysts said they would be highly likely to pass along information to others they heard in word of mouth exchanges, versus 51 percent of men. Women Catalysts are also more likely to be spurred to buy products recommended to them (55% vs. 47%) and to find the recommendations more credible (55% vs. 47%).
“These findings tell us that companies that actively and effectively reach out to these talk leaders will have an impact that goes far beyond that of traditional marketing methods,” said Renée Wilson, senior vice president and director, strategic services and innovation for MS&L’s New York office. “They also indicate that companies relying heavily on traditional mass marketing campaigns aren’t effectively maximizing their budgets, and are therefore failing to reach the consumers that can have the most impact on their brands.”
The identification of Conversation Catalysts – and a deep probe into their conversational behavior – brings to light certain game-changing insights into how marketers should approach WOM programs. For example:
Baby boomers remain extremely relevant to word of mouth campaigns.
More than a third (37%) of Conversation Catalysts are baby boomers ages 40 to 59. This finding is contrary to marketers’ popular, long-held belief that WOM campaigns should be targeted to a younger demographic.
People with influence are power listeners – not just power talkers.
Catalysts’ conversations are split between those in which the Catalyst gives the most advice (38%), those in which someone else does (25%) and those in which advice is shared from both directions (37%), but they are involved in more conversations about brands.
The Internet acts as resource for word of mouth, more than a channel of conversation. Consistent with previous Keller Fay research, most WOM conversations by Conversation Catalysts (72%) happen in face to face conversations, rather than online. But results from this study indicate that Conversation Catalysts rely heavily on the Internet as a resource for the information they pass along to their friends and families. In fact, in several categories, the Web is the most cited marketing and media resource.
The study also found that Conversation Catalysts talk about a broad range of industries, products and services. Not surprisingly, entertainment and media brands are most talked about, with 16 brand mentions per week. But brands in seven other
categories – including beverages, public affairs, food and dining, shopping and retail, travel, automotive and technology – are also talked about with high frequency (10 or more brand mentions per week).
“Major consumer marketers have awakened to the powerful influence of consumer word of mouth. This report provides compelling new evidence about the disproportionate impact that a select group of consumer influencers have in word of mouth, and highlights the ways these consumers spread information and insight beyond a narrow area of singular expertise,” said Ed Keller, CEO of Keller Fay and co-author of The Influentials. “We now know more about the everyday conversations of these important influencers than we have ever known before. Armed with this new information, there is a real opportunity for marketers to engage this group and turn these findings into actionable, measurable word of mouth programs.”