Hospital Marketing: Influencers of Water Cooler Brand Conversation

Television and the internet lead the way in influencing conversations about brands, prompting over 30% of all brand conversations.

For many years, television has been the medium that influences the largest number of brand conversations, outpacing every other medium in prompting face-to-face conversations about brands.  But the internet is gaining ground fast. According to a study conducted by Yahoo and Keller Fay Group the web now influences nearly 15% of consumer discussions about brands – nearly matching the 16% conversations inspired by television.

Jeff Neff reported the findings in an article in Ad Age stating that TV’s impact has remained consistent year after year but the impact of the internet is growing. Even though television remains strong, the internet is growing due to four primary factors:

1. The meteoric rise of social mediums like Facebook.   Social networks facilitate online sharing of information and communication.  Facebook use in the US alone has more than doubled from 69 million to 133 million within the past year.

2. The pervasiveness of mobile devices.  Smart phones provide round the clock access to the web regardless of location.

3. More people are searching the web for information about brands and products due to the tight economy.

4. The dependence of younger people on the internet.   Most of the increase in internet-influenced brand conversations were driven by people 13-29 years of age. “They’re now coming into a phase of their lives where brands matter”, stated Radha Subramnyam, VP-corporate and media research at Yahoo.

The vast majority of consumer conversations (76%) still happen face-to-face compared to 7% that happen online but the internet is growing as a channel that influences those conversations. And interestingly the growth of the internet as an influencer has not displaced other mediums; the pie for media influenced conversations is just growing. Television remained stable, as did newspaper, which influenced 10% of brand conversations while point-of-sale displays rose from 8% to 9%.

This clearly demonstrates the power of the media to impact brand conversations. Although most of the conversations are happening person-to-person, the media is heavily influencing the conversations.   And more and more attention should be given to our web-presence because it is growing in its power to influence the conversation.


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