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Consumers passionate about a certain issue?- dubbed “Passionistas” – are much more likely than typical consumers to create and share content online about their passions, and the brands associated with them, according to new research from Yahoo and MediaVest.

“Passionistas: The New Empowered Consumers” tracked the online behavior of consumers with specific passions, such as health, sports, food and entertainment. Marketers have a unique opportunity to engage these credible, influential advocates to spread brand messages through digital media, the study found.

Passionistas spend significantly more time engaged in activities related to their passions than the average consumer, according to the study. For example:

  • For every one minute that a typical internet user spends online with content associated with a passionista’s passion, Passionistas spend six minutes with that content.
  • Passionistas will visit a website related to their passion three times more than the typical user.
  • Passionistas search online for information about their passion 184% more than typical users and conduct more than 100 related searches having to do with their passion per year.

In addition, Passionistas heavily engage with communities of like-minded consumers who use email, text messaging, and instant messaging significantly more than typical users, and are more likely to create and share user-generated content online such as photos, blog posts or videos about their passions.

Because of their intense engagement around sharing information, Passionistas are 52% more likely than typical users to recommend or influence others about brands aligning with them.

Passionistas are more open than others to advocating brands that appear to share their passions, according to study findings:

  • 53% said they would try a brand they had not previously considered if it were associated with their passion, versus 41% of typical users.
  • 49% said their opinion of the brand would be more favorable if associated with their passion, versus 34% of typical users.
  • 46% said a brand has greater credibility if associated with their passion, versus 34% of typical users.
  • 43% said their opinion of a brand is more positive if they sponsor an event related to their passion, versus 30% of typical users.

Passionistas seek relevant and timely information, including ads that look and feel like content, email subscriptions and RSS feeds, and customized suggestions (such as those from Amazon or Netflix), according to the research.

They hold their brands to a high standard – and expect intelligent advertising, new approaches and authenticity. These consumers are more likely than average to remix content as a way to play with a brand, using online tools that make it increasingly easy for them to create movies, songs or slideshows to share with their friends.

About the study: A three-phase research methodology was used to establish a framework around how consumers use, share and leverage media around their passions. The qualitative portion of the research was conducted by Conifer from June to July of 2007 using an ethnographic approach (documentary-style interviewing). Interviews were conducted with 21 respondents in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, and examined their media behavior related to passions for a three week period. The quantitative portion of the study was conducted by comScore via an online survey of 2,013 respondents who were surveyed for their attitudes and behaviors about passions within four categories: Heath & Fitness, Sports, Movies & Entertainment, and Cooking & Food. Also, using comScore’s online panel of 1+ million members, click stream behavior was observed anonymously from June to August 2007 to determine online behavior related to consumer passions.

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