INFLUENCE can be a powerful force for businesses both on- and offline, and in many ways, it’s becoming increasingly important in the saturated online space.
A study by media company, Allison + Partners found that “engaged enthusiasts”, a powerful group of Asian consumers who wield immense influence among other consumer groups, could help drive up businesses’ sales conversions through a combination of opinion and recommendations.
It’s no secret that these consumers, or influencers, could have serious impact on a business’ bottom line, and companies would be well-advised to leverage on their reach to spread brand awareness and drive purchase decisions.
“Influence comes from many interrelated sources and how marketers select and prioritize influencers for their brand is critical,” said Paul Mottram, managing director of Allison+Partners’ All Told group in Asia Pacific, in a statement.
“While reach is important, it’s not everything. Will those influencers be perceived as credible and an authority for your brand or category? Will consumers trust their recommendations?”
So who are these “engaged enthusiasts” and what would be a productive way to think about them? Allison + Partners’ study found that two things define these so-called “engaged enthusiasts” are both largely open to influence, and are able to influence their peers’ opinions. The three-country study, spanning Japan, China and Singapore, found that as many as 79 percent of respondents admitted to being “extremely to moderately likely to make recommendations to others.”
These users are also extremely connected. Based on data from Singapore, the study found that 54 percent say they spend three to four hours on social media per workday. This can be compared to the 41 percent of the study’s total respondents who said that they would post their recommendations on social media.
All in all, these two pieces of data seem to point to not only the importance of these enthusiasts, but also how social media plays a pivotal role in their reach.
Social media is an extremely personal tool for many users, and in many cases, its power is amplified by the curation aspect for users. Everyone decides who they want to follow on whatever platform they use, and in many cases, this is because they trust those individuals.
Brands and companies, if they are able to tap into that powerful trust factor could benefit from the power of personal recommendation, which today remains one of the main reasons people trust a company.
The study found that social media has transformed from a place for sharing animal GIFs to an “essential, go-to place” for product information. 46 percent of Asian consumers said that their exposure to new products comes primarily from social media as compared to traditional media channels.
There’s also an added dimension when these products have a degree of social responsibility and appealing aesthetic that comes into play. As many as 56 percent of Singaporean respondents said that a brand’s social responsibility is “extremely” or “very” important.
“Asian consumers appear to value brands that not only do good, but also brands that look good – or make the consumer look good by being associated with them,” Mottram said in a statement.
The Internet is a bit of a wild place where all kinds of content can be accessed easily, which means that the latitude for a company to get their influencer strategy wrong is pretty wide. It’s important that a company approaches this form of branding strategy with an eye to how it will jive with their consumer responsibility.
For instance, a cosmetics company that employs animal testing isn’t likely to get very far with pet-loving social media influencers. In another example, celebrity influencer power is relatively limited in Singapore, the study found, as only 13 percent of Singaporean respondents said that those ads or social media postings pushed them to buy from a specific brand.
Allison + Partners’ Asia Influence Impact Report was based off consumer preference data gleaned through surveys on products and services in four key areas: consumer electronics and gadgets, food and beverage, travel and leisure, and financial services.