‘Influentials’, a term coined by US research company RoperASW, refers to the 10% of Americans whose robust engagement with society influences the attitudes and behavior of the other 90%.

It seems that this much sought species – comprising business networkers, news junkies and community movers and shakers – prefer the internet to all other media for acquiring their daily news and information.

Which is good news for WashingtonPost/Newsweek Interactive, an online publication which teamed with RoperASW to produce a study titled Influentials Online.

These desirable beings comprise a “community-minded population that highly values personal relationships, relies heavily on word of mouth, and tends to perform a wide array of activities online, including banking, arranging travel plans, reading magazines and newspapers and making purchases.”

The study concludes that these marketing dream targets now use online publications rather than TV, newspapers or magazines as their key source of daily news and information.

‘Influentials’ number about twenty million people with a median annual household income of $55,000. Eighty percent attended college and 50% graduated from college; one in five has gone to graduate school; and the demographic as a whole values education. Its main characteristics …

• 77% have internet access, compared to 50% of the general population.

• Six in ten (59%) spend at least one hour online each day (excluding e-mail), more than they spend with any other medium, including TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. The average Influential spends two hours online per day.

• 82% access the internet multiple times a day and 95% at least once a day.

• 56% recommend the internet and 56% recommend newspapers as a means to be reached by advertisers.
• The web is the top media used by Influentials to research new places to visit (86%), what to buy (82%) and is second (78%) only to newspapers (83%) for political news and information.

• 44% describe themselves as people who are asked for advice prior to purchasing various products and services:

• Two-thirds are asked for their opinions or to forward recommendations and information about products and services. The advice is forwarded to an average of five to 20 people.

• One in three have broadband internet connections at home, double that of the general population.

Enthuses RoperASW vp and senior research director Jon Berry: “The internet has become part of the core media to Influentials. It is a fact of life, and for companies that want to engage with Influentials, they have to consider the internet ... it’s like breathing air.”

The survey was conducted online May 21-31, polling nearly 9,000 random visitors to washingtonpost.com. Of these, 3,206 respondents were classified as Influentials.

Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff