The Internet, including social media, is increasingly at the heart of everything people do, changing the way consumers interact with one another and the commercial world around them. Both have proven to be powerful tools for brands to generate and measure buzz and the result is a
wealth of online consumer conversations.
In the first of a quarterly set of social media trend updates, Mintel's expert social media analyst team announces the top five trends in online consumer marketplace behavior identified from high-level research into the strategies employed by Fortune 500 companies across the US.
Mintel's social media analysts Gabi Lieberman and Lizz Martinez discuss the top five key trends--and their impact on the current social media marketplace:
1. The power of peers in high-spend sectors
Mintel's Inspire trend Influentials highlights how we now live in an era
where the Internet has democratized information and the consumer is now the
PR piece. It is little wonder therefore that in the high value and
infrequent purchase sectors, consumers are keener to garner pre-purchase
opinion from family, friends and their online communities. Within
lower-value everyday items, online conversation typically focuses on
post-purchase opinions and experiences. "This is particularly true of
online discussion around restaurants as restaurant-goers are encouraged to
leave reviews for other prospective diners. Brands have taken to leveraging
the power of geolocation, which has expanded beyond the just check-ins in
apps such as Foursquare, wherein brands are finding new ways to encourage
people to share their reviews, photos and check-ins with their friends,"
notes Lizz Martinez.
2. The influence of online chatter in the mobile phone market
"According to consumer research run for Mintel's Social Media series, an
average 16% of people look up reviews of mobile phone brands. Despite
long-term mobile phone contracts, an average of just one in ten mobile
phone users researched reviews of mobile service providers online. As the
battle between the iPhone and Android continues to rage offline, these are
the two brands that people are most likely to search the internet for
reviews on as they seek to make up their own mind about taking the plunge
or switching to the other side," says Gabi Lieberman. Despite having no
official social media pages, the wealth of information on the iPhone
overshadows the Android brand (securing more than 8.7 million online
mentions between August and December 2012 compared with Android's 4.7
million). With a higher proportion of adults having heard of but never used
the iPhone (67% vs. 58% for Android), it bears out that the wealth of
online reviews will no doubt go some way to helping to convert those
thinking of buying one.
3. Fictional characters help the unease of financial markets
The financial services market can be confusing and difficult to navigate
(26% of consumers said that they think it is important to shop around and
get quotes from a number of different insurance providers when their policy
is due for renewal according to data conducted for Mintel's Property and
Casualty Insurance - US, February 2013). Visiting a brand's website or
social media page is the leading interaction among property and casualty
insurance brands. This is unlike consumer goods markets, suggesting that
knowledge and information are more important than discounts. The use of
friendly--albeit fictional--characters by financial brands such as GEICO's
Gecko and Progressive's spokeswoman Flo serve as key conversation vehicles
to drive discussion online, helping to reduce trepidation consumers may
feel toward the topic of finance. "Within the healthcare sector, Mucinex
uses "Mr. Mucus" as the voice behind its Facebook posts, helping to add
personality to an otherwise seemingly unapproachable topic of OTC
medication," adds Gabi Lieberman.
4. Online behaviors more impactful on consumer behavior
"With rising broadband penetration and smartphone ownership, would-be
consumers are increasingly turning to information online to guide purchase
decisions and opinions. This is particularly the case within the emerging
consumer market of beauty devices. US beauty devices dominate online
engagement with its brands," says Gabi Lieberman. Out of the brands so far
analyzed throughout the Social Media series, the Clarisonic brand secured
the highest degree of online engagement with a third of users (32%) looking
up reviews of the brand. Further, 25% have visited its website, Twitter or
5. Innovative campaigns to influence the future
"As brands increasingly get involved in through-the-line promotion,
campaigns need to get more creative in order to stand out from the
competition. The Lay's "Do us a Flavor" Campaign demonstrates the power of
taking a contest and creating engaging content based on consumer entries.
As well as creating images and infographics on the most submitted flavors,
Lay's was also able to pinpoint regional preferences for different flavors
and ingredients. Domino's has done a great job at remaining transparent
throughout its rebranding process. Its dedication to customer satisfaction
is shown through its pizza tracker, posting tweets and live feedback around
the brand's virtual pizza tracker displayed in Times Square, and
continually engaging with its fans and followers online," concludes Lizz
Martinez. In the first report series of its kind, social media analysts Gabrielle Lieberman and Elizabeth Martinez, cut through the noise to identify relevant consumer insight to help brands fine-tune their online strategies and drive campaigns that appeal to popular cultural trends.
Notes to Editors
Meet Mintel's Social Media Experts Gabrielle Lieberman brings to Mintel keen awareness of effective social media strategies, having created the social media foundation for Crain's Chicago Business, where she also worked as a researcher. Prior to joining Mintel, Elizabeth Martinez spent two years at NM Insight, a division of Nielsen, researching online consumer-generated media and developing analyses and strategic recommendations. The Social Media Series includes eight reports a month, with each focusing on a different sector. Within each report, at least six brands are analyzed, drawing insight into how consumers interact with brands and how those brand interactions compare with one another.
Gabrielle and Elizabeth are available for perspective and interviews.
About Mintel Mintel is a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence. For more than 40 years, Mintel has provided insight into key worldwide trends, offering exclusive data and analysis that directly impacts client success. With offices in Chicago, New York, London, Sydney, Shanghai, Tokyo, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Sao Paulo, Mintel has forged a unique reputation as a world-renowned business brand.
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