After a year-long research effort, Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest has created a massive database designed to help clients better understand,
communicate with and market to consumer communities.
The database has been dubbed the Community Explorer, and the research behind it covered 150 community groups and over 180 brands, including MediaVest clients, potential clients and client competitors. The core study was designed to identify the interaction and relationships between a “community” and a brand and to find ways to create brand “experiences” to motivate and activate consumers within communities.
According to David Shiffman -- senior vice president, research director at MediaVest, who oversaw the project -- the shop got to that core issue by posing a series of “brand affinity questions” to a group of 8,000 consumers and community members.
Respondents were asked questions regarding use and preference for specific brands, whether they recommend brands and other questions. Their media usage was also explored, including their
interactions with brands on Facebook and other social media and to what extent they visited brand Web sites, joined rewards programs, entered contests and watched brand-related videos and other
A key issue for marketers that the study explored is how well communities can scale impressions by sharing information with other community members. The study found that blogger/social networks/message board communities was the top-ranked group for scale potential.
Profession/industry associations ranked second, and fraternities/sororities placed third. Rounding out the top five were religious cultural communities and gay/lesbian/bi-sexual/transgender communities. Each of those groups indexed 186% or higher in amplification/scale potential, compared to the average community. The average number of contacts that an individual connects with on a regular basis is 15, per the study.
The study also measured the type and strength of connection for each member/community.
“This was an area where we spent a great deal of time,” said Shiffman. To help shape questions for the consumer survey, the agency worked
with sociologists, academics and reviewed the academic body of literature on the elements of community, he added. “What we found is that there are generally four pillars or criteria that make up
community,” including a sense of membership, a sense of being influenced by and/or having influence over others in the group. Also key are feelings of fulfillment that come from participation
and an overarching emotional connection with the topic and other members.
“Driven by technology, media proliferation, the growth in social media platforms, and massive changes in consumer behavior, people are forming powerful social networks across an array of subject areas,” Shiffman said. “We believe that brands that help foster, facilitate and motivate communities will also exhibit strong brand health and sales.”
Shiffman said the plan is to refresh the Community Explorer database annually and to expand the list of communities “so that we can continue to learn.”