Who Generates Buzz?

SAN FRANCISCO Word-of-mouth marketing has moved into the spotlight and a study by Forrester Research seeks to demystify the pool of shoppers—60 percent of all consumers—who are most likely to share product advice with family and friends.

Word-of-mouth consumers span all generations, approach life optimistically, are status conscious and appreciate quality and personal service, according to the study, released Oct. 30.

Analyst Lisa Bradner is lead author on the report, which studies data from a mail poll of 5,000 U.S. households in 2006 that was part of Forrester’s NACTAS Benchmark Survey.

Her conclusions are that 40 percent of consumers neither give nor receive advice and 6 percent receive advice only. The rest are actively involved in generating and sharing buzz. Of that talkative group, the largest segment by age is baby boomers, at 44 percent of the total, followed by 18- to 40-year-olds, at 34 percent of the total.

One striking difference between word-of-mouth consumers and others is that twice as many WoM shoppers said they would pay for image products than their non-WoM counterparts. Also, about 9O percent of WoM consumers said they “always tried to make the best of every situation,” compared to only about 50 percent of non-WoM who agreed with that upbeat statement.

Overall, the study reports that consumers who create buzz are more prone to listen to advertising messages across various media, try new products and remain loyal to brands they like, compared to others.

The report recommends that marketers focus their word-of-mouth efforts on their best products and use offline avenues and traditional media channels as well as social computing to get their WoM message out.