Saturday, June 30, 2007

Opinion leaders and CGM

As a consumer's pre-purchase research finds more value and credibility in an informal source of information,rather than a company's advertising campaign or it's salespeople, CGM and opinion leaders are fast becoming forces to reckon with.

Opinion Leaders (Schiffman, Kanuk)have an informal influence over consumer behaviour and impact consumer acceptance of new products and services and Consumer Generated Media has provided a new source of communication for these opinion leaders.

The question is-
What drives an individual to be an opinion leader?

Desire for Self-Actualisation-
A feeling of superiority or status by demonstrating expertise by generating content and on being considered an authority on a subject.

Desire for Self-Projection-
Desire to build a credibility for himself. Research shows that individuals categorised as opinion leaders are four times more likely to be asked for advice/voice their opinion on any subject under discussion.

Need for Self-Confirmation-Try to reduce own post-purchase dissonance or self doubt regarding a purchase, by discussing the product features in a medium which will garner some comments, which if positive, will reassure the concerned individual regarding the appropriateness of his purchase.

Need for Social involvement-
Some people love sharing product related experiences and use these conversations as a means of being part of the community.

As the keen desire for knowledge and information drives an opinion leader to be an innovative consumer and share his experiences, his gregarious nature and access to the community coupled with the fertile opportunities provided by the collaborative web, can be utilised by organisations to generate favorable conversations about their products and services.

It is upto the consumer marketers to decide how to 'identify ' these opinion leaders or 'create ' 'CUSTOMER EVANGELISTS'

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