Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pioneering research tool set to change South African marketing landscape

Pioneering research tool set to change SA marketing landscape
Issued by: UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing

A groundbreaking South African research project that explores the power of networks and the impact of word-of-mouth marketing has come up with fascinating findings about major local brands and has generated a revolutionary new marketing tool.

The study identifies a spectrum of consumers who range from 'igniters' to 'damp squibs'. Igniters are those go-getters who exert an enormous level of influence over their large social and business networks. Damp squibs have smaller networks and are far less influential.

"Igniters are attractive to marketers because of their big networks and because the positive information about the brands they endorse spreads like wildfire through their circles of influence," explains Simpson. "Without necessarily talking about a product or brand, positive communication about it spreads rapidly because these trendsetters are seen to wear certain clothes, or eat at a specific restaurant. As a result of their extensive networks, an impact is made on a large number of like-minded people."

Influence is the differentiator that determines whether an individual's buying habits have an impact on others in their networks, Higgs maintains. "Igniters have influence and disseminate positive communication about brands both consciously through word-of-mouth, and unconsciously through what they consume - clothes, cars, home ware and so on." He added that this goes beyond the size of people's networks - it builds on a person's whole outlook on life. "Buzzy, vibey people have a greater effect on a brand's future than more pessimistic people."

The Wildfire Index can easily identify igniters and therefore enables marketers and human resources managers to accurately recruit those igniters who will make dynamic brand ambassadors and sales people. Among other functions the Index can also identify those brands, products and media which perform best in initiating word-of-mouth communication amongst individuals.

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