Monday, November 7

Targeting Attitude: Trends In Marketing

While most online attention has been skewed toward "influence," offline attention is beginning to consider attitude as a much more significant measure. It makes sense. Attitude, more than many demographic data and certainly more than online activity, can make or break a potential client.

Affinity AMS/Experian Simmons recently conducted a study that found most consumer opinions about the U.S. economy are mixed. Almost 32 percent expect economic conditions to get worse over the next 12 months and 38 percent foresee no significant change in the economic health of the country over the same period.

The suggested theory by AMS/Experian Simmons is that the smaller group — those who are optimistic about the economy — is more likely to be in the market to make certain purchases. Those who are pessimistic are not.

There is some truth to the thinking. Anyone who works for B2B businesses knows that their best clients tend to be more optimistic about the future (regardless of the economy). It's the reason they make purchases ahead of their growth curves, stock greater amounts of inventory, and ramp up marketing campaigns. Those who are pessimistic are more inclined to be overly cautious, even adversarial.

Some interesting findings from the AMS/Experian Simmons study. 

AMS/Experian Simmons researchers went deeper into the data, organizing print and digital magazine subscribers by publications and they found that the readers of certain magazines tend to be more optimistic than others.

Specifically, among website readers, Bridal Guide (55 percent), Harvard Business Reviews (49 percent), Dwell (48 percent), Outside (46 percent), Bicycling (46 percent), and Parenting (46 percent) all scored higher in optimism. Among print, Essence (50 percent), Ebony (46 percent), Jet (44 percent), Elle Decor (43 percent), New York Magazine (39 percent), and Men's Journal (39 percent) all scored higher.

To be clear, with the exception of Bridal Guide, optimism is generally not a majority. However, in comparing this data to the greater population, readers of these magazines (online or off) are beating the national average. And that may very well be significant.

The AMS/Experian Simmons study also broke out magazine subscribers in other ways too. For example, when they asked respondents whether they feel financially secure, Barron's (print), Bicycling (web), Wine Spectator (mobile), and Conde Nast Traveler (social networks) rose to the top of the list. When asked if they teach their children to be safe with money, Parenting (print), The Family Handyman (web), Country Light (mobile), and Cooking Light (social networks) rose to the top. And finally, when asked if they are good at managing money, Architectural Digest (print), Dwell (web), Kiplinger's (mobile), and Conde Nast Traveler (social networks) ranked higher than others.

Human traits and attitudes are becoming more important to marketers. 

Currently, most social media measures are designed to measure volume and mass as the two more important qualifiers of success. However, volume and mass may be the least important measures if marketers are reaching people who feel insecure about their own positions.

For example, with exception of those who have an expressed need, a car manufacturer whose message reaches an economic pessimist might as well be a wasted impression. After all, people who are pessimistic about the economy are less likely to purchase a car, especially a new one.

That doesn't necessarily mean that all of those impressions are lost, depending on the message. Car dealers convincing people that they would save money by exchanging for a lower lease, trading in a car for a lower interest rate, or stressing gas pump savings might win over some pessimists.

The point here isn't to ignore pessimistic consumers, but to get back to the businesses of matching better messages that communicate to the needs of specific consumers. Doing so removes the random mass approach and realigns sales to niche — specifically qualifying leads as opposed to assuming everyone is qualified. More importantly, it distinguishes qualified leads because even those with the same household income may have very different conclusions about any purchase based on their attitudes.

While I did not see the study published on its site, AMS has several interesting studies available. It tracks about 175 magazine brands that garner the dominant share of the marketplace.
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