A new study conducted by American Express indicates Canadian consumer purchasing is heavily influenced by friends and family, both online and offline. In fact, three quarters of Canadians participating in the survey consider themselves to be influential in a wide range of persuasion situations. Survey respondents defined the top three characteristics that make someone influential as confidence (81%), education (55%), and those who experience new things often (44%).
An interesting detail uncovered in this survey is that Canadians enjoy influencing others in their buying decisions. The appeal is in the desire to be viewed as informed, educated, and on top of the latest trend. Wanting to help the people they care about is also a driving factor.
“It’s clear that Canadians love being seen as taste-makers and influencing their networks, especially if they are rewarded in the process,” says Brett Mooney, Vice President of Consumer Acquisition and Engagement at American Express Canada.
Who are Canadian Consumers Most Influenced by?
- Family (77%)
- Friends (72%)
- Partner of spouse (71%)
The Influential Power of Family and Friends
- 71% of of Canadians ask family or friends to recommend a product or service
- 60% of those aged 18-24 say they like to consult someone before making a major decision
- 64% of Canadians would be more likely to recommend a product or service to someone if both would receive a reward
- 40% of Canadians recommend a product or service to friends or family to make them happy
- 87% of Canadians try new restaurants based on the recommendation of family and friends
- 65% look for travel recommendations from family and friends
- 52% of Canadians take action based on financial advice from family and friends
The Social Network Impact on Influence
Word-of-mouth has always been powerful in business, but it has been super-charged by the ease of online social sharing. Social sharing occurs on blogs, online discussion groups and of course, social media networks.
“Nearly one in five Canadians say that social media has made them more influential, which means the power of word of mouth is turning to ‘world’ of mouth,” says Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business. “As a result, we’re seeing a number of great referral programs that put the consumer in the power seat.”
- 35% of young Canadians aged 18-24 say that social networks are influential to them
- 25% of women and 18% of men go to their social networks for a product or service recommendation
- 64% of Canadians agree that social media has changed the concept of influence
- 43% give reviews posted on social media the same value as traditional information channels
Social media and blogs offer businesses a virtually limitless opportunity to reach influencers in Canada. The cost is low and the learning curve is manageable. It does take more than marketing knowledge to utilize these channels effectively, however. You’ll need someone who also has creativity, writing talent, adaptability, and the social skills to professionally interact online.
The best way to find these talented individuals is to watch for them online so you can see them in action before approaching them. For example, all but one of my contracts for this type of position have come from people who have read blog posts and articles I’ve written, and then checked me out on social media. Being able to evaluate my work served them much better than having to trust that talent was included with a marketing certification. As a bonus, people who are already established online bring their network with them for your benefit.
Need some guidance?
If you prefer “do it yourself” social media marketing, it’s important to learn from the real experts:
- Free LinkedIn training is available at LinkedU: How to Create a Massive LinkedIn Referral Network with THE Most Influential Players in Your Market.
- The book Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Amazing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and More, was revised and expanded in 2015 and is perfect for social media novices.
To gain further insight, American Express also conducted a social experiment, taking regular Canadians through a crash course on influence and then sending them to the streets of Toronto to test how body language, flattery and other personality characteristics play into influencing complete strangers. The video of the results is truly enlightening and more than a little entertaining.
Are you fully utilizing influential Canadians through bloggers, social media and reward programs? Please share your experience in the comments below.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Reaching Canadian Consumers Through Niche Bloggers
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In 25 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available on Amazon.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.