Small Group Influences Masses in Personal Finance WOM

December 8, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Financial Services | Household Income

When it comes to word-of-mouth communications about personal finance, a small group comprising 11.5% of the US adult population is the key influencer for the majority of other people – both offline and online, according to (pdf) a survey from Mediamark Research & Intelligence (MRI).

Though people in this segment of approximately 25.4 million mirror the typical American adult in terms of average age (45.4) and have only a 4% higher annual income than the national average of $65.5K, MRI dubs them “Big Circle Influentials” because of their relatively large sphere of influence over those they know personally and others they may come in contact with online or in other public venues.


Big Circle Influentials score well above the national average for key financial and wealth indicators:

  • They are 33% more likely to own a home valued at $500K or more.
  • They are 157% more likely to have made 10 or more investment transactions in the last 12 months.
  • They are 109% more likely to own securities with a value of $150K or more.
  • They are 44% more likely to have sought financial planning and/or money-management advice.

“It’s vital for financial advertisers to be able to identify Big Circle Influentials because these thought leaders advise family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, as well as people they don’t necessarily know, through viral and social networks,” said Anne Marie Kelly, SVP of marketing and strategic planning at MRI. “In this case, targeting on demographics alone would not allow marketers to reach this key segment.”

About the survey: MRI’s word-of-mouth segmentation research is based on a mail recontact survey of households that previously participated in MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer, a single-source consumer database based on personal interviews with 26,000 respondents per year. Consumers are categorized by their level of influence in recommending products and services (in the last 12 months) to family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, and strangers they encounter in stores or online. The data are integrated with previously collected media usage and exposure information and usage information on nearly 6,000 brands across 550 categories.


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