Forget influencers. If you want to make money, target the "pollinators." That's the new term for the 20 percent of the Internet population that has disproportionate buying power and is loyal to the niche websites that focus on their passions.
Pollinators are the focus of new research called "Beyond Influence: Where to Find and Engage the New Power Consumers Online." The research was conducted by digital media platform Martini Media and market research firm Added Value.
The study found that while the Internet has served as a great equalizer, giving every consumer a voice and the opportunity to influence, it also has spawned this new breed of "uber-influencers" called pollinators.
Chris Anderson debuted the idea of niche-buying habits in his book, "The Long Tail" (Hyperion, 2006), and Malcolm Gladwell defined the concept of "influencers" in his book "The Tipping Point" (Back Bay Books, 2002), but the new concept of pollinators shows that this particular breed of influencer is willing and able to dive wholeheartedly into his or her passions with a fist full of cash.
"Pollinators are like influencers on steroids,” said Nima Srinivasan, senior vice president of Added Value. “It’s a pleasant surprise how easily marketers can find and connect with them just by looking in the right places, like niche sites for passion topics.”
Pollinators read more, share more, influence more, and engage with ads more than anyone else online. The study identified five actions that determine a person’s degree of influence online: sharing opinions on passions, making recommendations on products, trying products first, posting in online forums and blogging about interest categories. Whereas "influentials" — some 45 percent of the Internet population — do two of those five things, pollinators do them all.
Pollinators are also more loyal than the rest of the population to the brands they love. Pollinators are even willing to buy a product simply because they like the statement it makes. Fifty-five percent of pollinators feel it’s important to stand out from the crowd, and say brands are “part of who I am.” Only half as many influentials are willing to do the same. And three times as many pollinators (46 percent vs. 13 percent) say owning or wearing a luxury product has special appeal.
Huge marketing potential
While this brand of shopper is particularly valuable because of his or her desire to spread the word about favorite products and businesses, pollinators are also big spenders themselves.
For example, they are four times as likely to buy a new car in the next six months, and nearly twice as likely to spend more than $1,000 per year on technology. Once they buy, 64 percent go out of their way to tell their friends, family and colleagues how good the product is.
But it's not just your product they are willing to talk about. They will even spread the word about your advertising; 74 percent say a good ad is worth talking about.
They go to niche sites first because focused content makes them feel like experts, puts them in touch with likeminded people, and provides purchase recommendations they can trust, according to Srinivasan. Once there, 77 percent post a comment, 67 percent post the content to a social network, and 71 percent make a purchase.
Putting pollinators to work
The key to keeping pollinators coming back to your site is to provide them with truly newsworthy information, Srinivasan told BusinessNewsDaily.
"This group is hungry for news," she said. "They are coming to niche sites to pick up information and then take it forward. Make sure information itself has legs."
To do that, you must be sure your site or social media presence is offering something truly newsworthy and punchy that is also true to your brand, she said.
“It’s time to market from the inside out,” said Adam Chandler, chief revenue officer of Martini Media. “The conventional pyramid dictates buying mass media first, then targeting specific segments. This research shows that brands can actually build mass influence faster and more reliably by tapping a new power center first: specialty sites that cater to the passions of the most powerful consumers. These people spread their opinions and recommendations compulsively across digital networks.”
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