SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Allison+Partners has released its inaugural Influence Impact Report, which explores the dynamic forces that shape and drive consumers in an active ecosystem of influence. Conducted in partnership with Northstar Research, the study reveals that influence is more than the net effect media and digital influencers have on consumers and more than the channel to deliver information to stakeholders. In fact, influence only begins when consumers make a decision to move toward purchase. The data also helps define three essential “personas of influence” that brands must understand and activate to influence consumers during their journey to purchase.
“The initiation of influence has shifted. It is no longer something mercurial that impacts consumers beyond their control but, rather, a conscious, informed action they take to willingly and consensually allow brands the opportunity to change or reinforce thinking,” said Corey Martin, managing director of consumer marketing for Allison+Partners. “This understanding goes against the behaviors and assumptions made by many brand marketers that choose to utilize influencers solely as a channel for pushing out content in order to create ‘influence.’”
The study shows that consumers initiate the pull of influence largely during the consideration phase of the purchase journey, relying on several sources to form their opinions.
- Fifty-two percent say they always plan and research before they buy.
- Eighty percent spend a lot of time researching products before making a major purchase.
- Sixty-two percent actively seek out the advice of others before trying new brands or products.
- Fifty-nine percent say people often ask their opinion about products, brands or services they should consider buying or using.
- Fifty-nine percent only buy items that others have bought and tested first.
Even though consumers may initiate the process, it remains critical for brands to know which source has the highest level of influence so they are able to impact behavior most effectively. According to the study, word-of-mouth (41 percent), traditional media (22 percent), in-person experiential events (18 percent) carry the most weight. Digital channels represent the next three most important: social digital influencers (14 percent) online media (13 percent) and online communities (12 percent). The level of influence these sources carry also varies by vertical industry, which is also detailed in the report.
Combining extensive research findings with communications expertise and human insight, Allison+Partners has identified three essential “personas of influence” that brands must understand to activate influence in their favor. They include:
1. The Expressive Explorer: This persona represents the largest opportunity for brands to extend their reach, move market share from competitors and drive trial amongst new audiences. They seek out information to better inform their decisions, primarily on social and online channels. In fact, 80 percent hear about new products on social media before traditional media and 62 percent identify blogs as their primary sources of information. This group also actively seek others views, as well as opportunities to express their own opinions, with 90 percent agreeing that people often ask their opinion of brands and products and they are very vocal in sharing their thoughts.
2. The Socially Conscious Connector: This persona offers brand marketers the opportunity to develop authentic, long-term relationships with their audiences. Since their decisions are guided by brand purpose and shared within trusted personal social networks, their opinions can carry great weight for brands. They rely heavily on word-of-mouth to get information, especially from friends and family. Due to this reliance, they value “authenticity” with an expectation for diversity and multiculturalism. Nearly one-third strongly believe that a brand spokesperson should be of their same cultural heritage. This expectation drives their defined world view, which encourages them to look for brands that share their point of view. In fact, 93 percent believe that a brand’s values should mirror their personal values.
3. The Commnivore: The Communications Omnivore, or “Commnivore,” voraciously consumes all forms of communications. They begin their purchasing journey through digital channels, and engage across multiple platforms at once to tell their story. For Commnivores, a brand’s visual style is also of significance, with 92 percent indicating that it should align with their own preferences. These consumers are more likely to be multicultural, comprised largely by Millennials and Gen X.
“By understanding these personas, brands can more efficiently identify the voices and better tailor content and communications programming,” said Cathy Planchard, senior partner and president of the All Told division of Allison+Partners, which combines the agency’s research, content, creative, digital and measurement expertise into one robust centralized offering. “These personas also have unique behaviors based on the vertical industries they operate in, which give greater color to the channels and communications strategies that can be deployed.”
The report also describes how brand marketers can activate influence by aligning the tone and type of content they produce with the preferences and patterns of the personas they hope to engage. For example, marketers can engage Socially Conscious Connectors, who crave authenticity, through word-of-mouth activities that emphasize brand purpose. The Commnivore, who consumes multiple channels of content and expects brands to be digitally-savvy, will want personalized and compelling content that is easily found and shared across multiple platforms. Finally, Expressive Explorers, who are avid researchers, will need straightforward content that explains USPs and compares products against competing brands.
The results of the study serve as the foundation for Allison+Partners’ proprietary Influencer Impact Score, a qualitative and quantitative scoring system that helps clients identify the most important influencers to their brands. The ranking helps clients achieve a true 360-degree influence approach, moving beyond just media and digital influencers, to reach those who can activate and inspire consumer behavior.
About the Influence Impact Report
The Influence Impact report is conducted in partnership with Northstar Research that explores the dynamic forces that shape and drive consumers in an active ecosystem of influence. The study included a survey conducted between July 31 and Aug. 7, 2015, of 2,000 U.S. respondents ages 18-74. The verticals tested include: telecom & wireless, food service, travel & leisure, health care, consumer electronics & devices, beauty & personal care, retail & consumer packaged goods.
Allison+Partners, an MDC Partners company, is a global communications firm driven by a collaborative approach to innovation and creativity. The firm was named PRWeek’s 2015 “Midsize Agency of the Year,” In2 SABRE’s 2015 “Most Innovative Agency” and The Holmes Report’s 2014 “Agency of the Year.” Allison+Partners is organized around seven practices: Consumer Marketing, Corporate, Global China Practice, Health + Wellness, Public Affairs, Social Impact and Technology, and has offices in San Francisco, New York, Boston, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Paris, Bangkok, Lyon, Singapore, Chicago, Washington D.C., Silicon Valley, Seattle, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Phoenix, Portland and San Diego. The agency also has a network and deep affiliations with firms worldwide through MDC Partners (NASDAQ:MDCA, Toronto Stock Exchange:MDZ.A), a progressive marketing and communications network, championing the most innovative entrepreneurial talent. For more information, visit www.allisonpr.com.
About Northstar Research
Northstar is grounded in a unique culture of “Fearless Intellect” exemplified by courageous thinking that will take you beyond your limitations. Northstar people are unshackled in our passion for delivering unconventional thinking that leads to pragmatic solutions. With five offices on three continents, we are a Global Hub of Collaboration that attracts visionaries from academia and media, luminaries and experts. Northstar has a broad range of experience in a wide variety of market sectors, research methodologies and cultures. We specialize in extensive programs to inform change in behavior and communications strategy. We believe in the power of the imagination as a tool to providing solutions to our clients’ challenges. For more information, visit www.northstarhub.com.