Influential 10 Percent Drive Sales

Mar 12, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A new book, The Influentials, says 10 percent of consumers have a major influence over what the other 90 percent buy.

Ed Keller, chief executive officer, RoperASW and co-author of the book told The Washington Post, “From big-ticket to small-ticket items, to everyday issues and problems, consumers are turning to word of mouth from people they know, and it’s these 1-in-10 Americans who have become the trusted turned-to people.”

Mr. Keller and co-author Jon Berry, vice president and senior director of research of RoperASW, contend that consumers have lost trust in the government, employers, media and marketers.

“Self-reliance has replaced that trust”, say the authors. This translates into consumers turning to each other for information in researching and making purchasing decisions.

Moderator’s Comment: Do you agree that 10 percent of
the population has as big an influence on shopping behavior as the authors of
The Influentials contend? What does this mean (or not) for retailers?

We’ll leave the quantification part up to researchers
such as Messrs. Keller and Berry.

Our answer on the power of word of mouth was given back
when we referenced a recent trip to a grocery store in our commentary to What’s
A Little Snow, RW 2/19/03

A woman enters the store and walks directly to a checkout
with a cashier (male, no less) and says words to the effect of, “I was in here
a couple of weeks ago. You suggested using your (private label) chutney as a
dip and a glaze on seafood. I finally made it last night and it was the best
thing. My family loved it.” Each of the next shoppers on line asked about the
product and how to prepare just as the woman shopper had described.
Anderson – Moderator

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