HONG KONG: Almost one quarter (23%) of internet users in Asia merit the description “engaged enthusiasts”, who exert a disproportionate influence on their peers in matters such as spreading brand awareness and swaying purchase decisions, research has shown.

Comms agency Allison+Partners surveyed more than 3,000 consumers in three countries for its Asia-Pacific Influence Impact Report and found that social media “is today the essential platform for product awareness”.

Fully 86% of survey respondents aged 18-44 said they heard about new products on social media before they heard about them through traditional media sources; this was also true of two thirds of those aged 65 and over.

And engaged enthusiasts spend significantly more time on social media than other internet users, as well as being more inspired than other internet users by the channels most commonly used by marketers, both online and offline.

These engaged enthusiasts were especially prevalent in China, where they accounted for 35% of respondents; in Singapore they made up 21% of those surveyed and just 10% in Japan.

These users were more likely than others to follow KOLs and online influencers (95% vs 64%), and to trust their recommendations (73% vs 25%).

They were also more likely to make recommendations to others (79% vs 34%) and to post recommendations on social media (41% vs 21%).

“Influence comes from many interrelated sources and how marketers select and prioritize influencers for their brand is critical,” said Paul Mottram, managing director of Allison+Partners’ All Told group in Asia Pacific.

“While reach is important, it’s not everything,” he added. “Will those influencers be perceived as credible and an authority for your brand or category? Will consumers trust their recommendations?”

The report argued that engaged enthusiasts are “disproportionately important for marketers” who could utilise them in a number of ways beyond sharing content.

They can, for example, “mine loyalty programs to enlist and qualify them as brand ambassadors” or enrol them in beta/user groups for rolling out new features or soft-launch/preview products.

Sourced from Allison+Partners; additional content by WARC staff