Tropicana’s recent decision to revert to their classic packaging of 24 years was made after an uproar from consumers – largely in social media – against the new look. Granted, not everyone likes change, and with every change will come some negative feedback. But Tropicana realized something in retrospect: Each consumer’s opinion does not have equal weight. Despite all of their research – and I’m sure Arnell and the team at Tropicana did plenty of it – it’s hard to detect the few negative votes in a focus group who could be those who start an anti-Tropicana Facebook group, blog about their opinions, tweet to their thousands of followers, etc.
The Internet, however, makes it a lot easier. In fact, detecting online influencers is relatively simple given that they are the creators – those who blog, tweet, comment, post, upload, design – and build audience around them. Forrester Research does an excellent job of showcasing the social strata that exists on the Internet, which is actually no different from any other offline social environment. While Forrester details a social strata the includes multiple levels of participation, offline we tend to look at influencers and everyone else. There’s the mom in the playground who tells all the other moms which stroller to buy, which diapers to use, and if she can make a compelling argument, then many others follow suit because of her influential status as well as the “I’ve been there” component. Those people are easier to detect online. Many brand marketers have even created focus groups around only these influencers to understand how their opinions may differ from the results of focus groups to help make better informed marketing decisions.
We recommend marketers listen to their customers online – looking holistically at the target audience but also zeroing in on the influencers – before devising marketing strategies, whether online or offline.