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Capturing the Attention of Influential “Prosumers”

Prosumers are of particular importance to marketers. They influence markets all over the globe. In fact, their current attitudes and behaviors are likely to be seen among mainstream consumers six to 18 months from now.

Prosumers are customers who treat “consumables” in a personalized manner. The whole experience is important to them, from the acquisition and use of the product to the impact it has on their lives and lifestyles. Increasingly, theyre paying attention to the impact the product has on other people and the environment, as well.

Havas Worldwide‘s Communities and Citizenship study—our latest Prosumer survey—uncovers important insights in three areas: 1. understanding and predicting customer needs in real time, 2. understanding what’s important to the customer in his or her role as a good citizen and community member, and 3. engaging with that customer in ways that are meaningful and authentic.

The study found that four in 10 Prosumers cite “being a responsible consumer” as one of the three most important aspects of good citizenship. For Prosumers, this responsibility entails not just being informed about the products they buy, but also informing others and influencing brands to make positive choices and changes. Their role is both as advocate and influencer.

This marks a clear evolution of the role of “consumer,” as purchase decisions become a way to vote on what the world looks like and how it operates.  Just about eight in 10 Prosumers (79 percent) and six in 10 mainstream consumers (62 percent) are paying more attention these days to the environmental or social impact of the products they buy. Moreover, six in 10 Prosumers believe they actually have more influence as consumers than they do as voters. Clearly, they’re seeing the larger impact of their consumption choices. This gives communities—be they geographic, social, or concern-based—an opportunity to harness the power of these influential consumers for their own ends. The sustainability and “buy local” movements are among the results of the new Prosumer advocacy and are testament to the impact of consumers and brands working together.

In our Big Data world, tracking shopping and search patterns is essential to understanding the full extent of the Prosumer impact on marketing and the economy in real time. Creating traditional attitudinal segments and profiles is no longer enough. Customers need to be tracked through a variety of digital mediums to ascertain where they’re engaging, how they’re engaging, and how this engagement affects their buying and search decisions and those of others. By combining social media and Big Data tools, we can identify not only exactly who is chatting/tweeting/posting/blogging, but also where, when, and why. We know already that Prosumers use their social networks at significantly higher rates compared with the mainstream and that their levels of influence on their coworkers, communities, and brand partners are markedly higher. These differences have a measurable impact on market performance.

Thus, predictive modeling around social should not measure social ROI in terms of likes, fans, or impressions; rather, they should measure social activity, behaviors, and attitudinal metrics as key drivers of market performance. Predictive modeling also needs to accurately correlate actions, attitudes, and participation, with traditional structured data being used in combination with unstructured big data. Profiles are based on actions—on actual search and shopping behaviors. Attitudes are based on actions—on comments, blogs, tweets, and reviews. Participation is based on actions—on social network activity and engagement with curated, personalized, or self-generated content.

Predictive analytics can now look at the combination of query strings for all of these activities and go beyond identifying optimal customers or segments with specific ROIs. By taking these different strings of data, down to the search-query level, predictive analytics can determine the types and combinations of personalized content that will either lead to a conversion or initiate engagement, attitudes, or behaviors that lead to sales and conversions.

In our new, more democratized form of marketing, appropriately and correctly engaging customers prior to moving them into purchase mode is essential to a great customer experience. Done right, it not only closes a sale, but also encourages customers to serve as active digital advocates of the brand. In a careful and measured approach of predictive analytics that combines structured and unstructured data is where the greatest opportunity lies to intelligently communicate with customers and to best serve the needs of clients.

   Paul Marobella is president of Havas Discovery.
   Eamon Boyle is managing director of data intelligence at Havas Discovery.
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