Yahoo/MediaVest: 'Spark' Marketing Empowers 'Passionistas'

  |  September 27, 2007   |  Comments

Yahoo research identifies a group of heavily engaged brand advocates.

Making consumers the voice of your advertising is not so much a tactic to be leveraged as it is an overarching strategy. That's one of the conclusions of new research from Yahoo and MediaVest that focuses on a breed of brand advocates whose members thrive on being the go-to advisors on their particular interests.

"Passionistas: The New Empowered Consumers," conducted by Yahoo and sponsored by MediaVest, discusses brand loyalty and advocacy in this engaged group.

The research found that one way for brands to generate discussion is through a spark, or messaging event, usually in the form of viral or consumer-generated media. That event can be a video Unilever drops on YouTube to promote Dove, or Frito-Lay asking consumers to submit their Super Bowl commercial for Doritos.

Edwin Wong, director of consumer insights and organization at Yahoo, said passionistas then push those ideas to a wider swath of the populace. "What we're seeing is that these same empowered passionistas, consumers, will ingest those sparks, create user-generated content, and accelerate it into the long tail," he said.

Passionistas also seek information, the research found. For every minute typical Internet users spend on content, passionistas spend six minutes online with content related to their interests. The contingent visits particular Web sites related to their interest three times more often than typical users.

Once engaged, passionistas become brand advocates, passing along information about products and services with which they share an affinity. Messages are often shared through e-mail, text messaging, and instant messaging. According to Yahoo/MediaVest, Passionistas as brand advocates are 52 percent more likely than a typical Internet user to recommend or influence others about brands they feel aligned with.

"'The consumer is the voice'... is not so much a tactic to leverage [as] an overarching strategy," said Jim Kite, president of connections research and analytics at MediaVest.

A brand on the wrong side of a passionista will "hear about it like never before," said Kite. Advocates also moderate situations where consumers criticize the brand of choice. "These consumers are so passionate about what they do, they probably will protect your equity better than you can," said Anindita Mukherjee, group VP of marketing at Frito-Lay.

Passionistas strive to be the experts in their interest areas to friends and family. The findings are similar to those of a recent CNET study on influencers.

The study was a collaboration between Yahoo and MediaVest with ethnographic research conducted by Conifer Research and panel surveys conducted by comScore.

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Enid Burns

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