The Micro and Macro of Behaviors

If you own a car, you know how much gasoline prices have risen recently. A gallon of the gas is now almost as much as a cup of coffee at Starbucks. In fact, your car will likely drain that gallon going to and from the local Starbucks.

A recent BIGresearch study shows macro influences directly affect micro scales, such as consumer behaviors. Although respondents believe gas price inflation has “no major impact on their spending outlook,” the study reveals consumers continue to use higher gas prices and better gas mileage to justify higher expenditures on new vehicles.

A few weeks ago, I saw a news segment highlighting Toyota’s Prius. The demand for “efficiency” hybrid cars has been so high, buyers must wait anywhere from three to six months before the car arrives.

How is this relevant to behavioral targeting? The link between the two demonstrates, aside from manifestations of an individual’s personalities, traits, and preferences, consumer behaviors are directly influenced by conditions in a larger landscape. If behavioral targeting is about compiling a comprehensive set of behaviors to profile and understand the audience, it’s important to consider both macro and micro parameters to effectively interpret the data to formulate the right strategies.

Just Like Economics

Economics consists of macro and micro scopes. The symbiotic relationship between the two forces makes the whole both complex and interesting. Consumer behaviors are very similar to economics in that they’re also subject to macro and micro influences that may affect personal activities.

Consumers who recently experienced, or expect to experience, significant lifestyle changes browse the Web differently, according to a recent comScore study, “Surfing Through Life Changes: How Consumers Embrace the Web During Major Life Events.”

The study finds consumers who moved within the past six months overwhelmingly use online local search services, such as Citysearch.com and Switchboard.com; recent movers are almost twice as likely as other consumers to use Citysearch and almost two and a half times more likely to use Switchboard.

Newly moved consumers are 45 percent more likely than average Internet users to be 18-34 years old and are substantially more interested in financial services. In the past six months, they’re 283 percent more likely to have searched for checking account information online; 85 percent more likely to have searched for credit card information online; 64 percent more likely to have used an airline incentive; and 161 percent more likely to have used credit cards offering incentives other than travel points.

Insights such as these can provide strategic opportunities for marketers to nimbly adapt their communication strategies to increase advertising relevance.

An Opportunistic View

In media, it’s very easy to live inside the textbook planning bubble of frequency, cross-site duplication, and reach. Yet the best media strategists are often not the most technically inclined planners but opportunists who formulate plans based on the changing consumer behaviors and patterns.

Consumers are fickle. Their media consumption habits are changing, and their behaviors reflect this. Those of us entrenched in the behavioral revolution know these changes fundamentally transformed the way advertising and marketing are practiced. Focusing on consumer behavior’s macro and micro influences allow us to further dive into the consumer psyche and ultimately, to become consumer-focused smart marketers.

What Does This Mean for Online Media?

Gas price increases remind us consumer behaviors don’t exist in a vacuum; they’re subject to micro and macro plays of economic forces. Marketing based on these constantly changing behaviors must have a much broader perspective than its vernacular context.

Online has the unique ability to track almost all interactions between the audience and an advertised brand. Most important, online is a much more effective tool for measuring consumer behaviors than any other medium. As smart marketers, we must pay close attention to the changes around us that can potentially influence consumer behaviors and develop astute plans. That’s the true definition of interactive marketing.

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