Understanding Audiences in a Connected World


TNS Four Personas of the Connected World
If I had to boil down my talk on influence to one action verb, that verb would be understand. Understanding goes a long way when you are looking to make connections because it leads you to the appeal factor. This intelligence, well executed, allows you to have more impact, and beyond the here and now.

TNS proposes there are four main personas — Functionals, Connectors, Observers, Leaders — each exhibiting behaviors associated with their degree of digital influence and social engagement:

1. Digital influence

The first dimension is the degree to which a consumer is connected throughout the day across multiple devices; the degree, you might say, to which they are addicted to being online. Typically a higher degree of connectedness would result in higher consumption of online video, a greater engagement with eCommerce, more multi-screening and the use of multiple online touchpoints in the path to purchase. At the extreme, this also means a reduced consumption of traditional media. In short, this dimension measures the degree to which digital is influencing a connected consumer’s life.

2. Social engagement

The second dimension is the degree to which social (media) connection and content is important to a connected consumer. Do they feel the urge to check their Facebook status all day? Are they vocal online, or more voyeuristic? Are they likely to respond to branded content in social channels? And in mature economies, does social play a role in the purchase journey? Fundamentally, are they the type of person who embraces social media, warts and all?

It is interesting to note how both Observers and Leaders enjoy being online, trying new things, and figuring out how do use new technologies, though the first are not as excited about social. While Functionals make up about 1/3 of the online population in most markets, Connectors are about 15-20%.

Knowing your market-level personas is useful, but what’s critical is determining the relative role of personas within your category or target audience.

To illustrate, TNS provides a schematic of how buyers of beers and ales in the UK differ compared to the market average, and how they differ depending upon their age.

TNS Beer Drinkers Personas in UK

TNS says that although more than half of the group seems to fall under one persona:

there are three areas of caution.

Firstly, half of the age group falls outside of this persona.

Secondly, in an era where audience reach is purported to be the only marketing metric that matters, ignoring the other age group may prove foolhardy.

Finally, just because there is one large persona, it doesn’t mean they will engage with your brand.

Buyers of beer in the U.S. market would include a starting age of 21. To make the information actionable, you would want to understand also buying patterns, context, and product preferences — for example, avid sports fans who enjoy their favorite brands vs. people who like to try new things — as well as the slice of market they command and influence. As for execution, multiple activation strategies make better sense when supporting multiple brands.

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