Advertisers Reach Opinion Leaders essay example

1,093 words
Chan and Misra's (1990) study is an empirical examination in relation to past findings, of the role which personality trait and public individuation play to effect upon opinion leadership. The study first provided discussion of previous studies determining the characteristics of an opinion leader, which enable construction of their arguments on the appropriate foundation. This was followed by their quantitative research, detailed discussion and analysis. They state that even though factors such as risk preference, open-mindedness, and mass media exposure correlates with opinion leadership, these were not important predictors of opinion leadership.

Although this conclusion supports Armstrong and Feldman's (1976) findings that opinion leaders and non-leaders exhibited similar levels of mass media exposure, it contradicts with other studies which suggests there are varying levels of mass media exposure to opinion leaders between the two extremes (Walker, 1995). Chan and Misra (1990) aim to provide an adequate in-depth discussion of past studies of opinion leadership, its relationship with the target audience, as well as characteristics of opinion leaders, by discussing areas of personality traits and other attributes, however, real-life examples and case studies could also have give credibility to the various views argued in the study. Overall, adequate discussion, analysis, and conclusion but only little reference was given on how it affects the actually advertising process and advertising strategies. 2.1 WORD-OF-MOUTH COMMUNICATIONS It can be said that Chan and Misra's (1990) statement reinforces the definitions of opinion leaders from precedent studies as being both a leader and an influence receiver (Myers and Robertson, 1972; Reynolds, 1971). Although Chan and Misra (1990) discuss the importance of word-of-mouth communications in relation to opinion leaders, they seem to have failed to provide explanation of how advertisers reach opinion leaders and create word-of-mouth communications.

An example of an effective advertising campaign that demonstrated targeting of opinion leaders and creating word-of-mouth communications would have created a better picture of the process of such concept. Walker (1995) reinforces Chan and Misra's (1990) argument about the importance of personal interaction towards marketers when they want to form a favourable attitude towards an advocated position, by suggesting the need to locate opinion leaders for a particular product or service and find a way of getting them talking about that product or service. Chan and Misra's (1990) conceptual approach differs from past research on the diffusion theory which was presented using 'optimal matching procedure' and computer simulations that show how much faster diffusion occurs when initiated by opinion leaders (Valente and Davis, 1999). Little empirical evidence has been provided in Chan and Misra's (1990) study. In terms of strategies of diffusion, they could include simulating personal influence, stimulating personal influence, monitoring personal influence, and retarding personal influence (Turnball and Meenaghan, 1980). Turnball and Meenaghan (1980) also suggest the use of copy media and promotional strategies to general such influences.

2.2 LIMITATIONS Chan and Misra (1990) have also failed to address the critical factor of the limitations and boundaries to studies of diffusion and word-of-mouth communications. Research and studies of opinion leadership and diffusion could be sensitive to missing data due to the inability to interview all members of a community (Valente and Davis, 1999). This could implicate advertising research in that tracing of innovation through a network of social contacts is extremely difficult. 2.3 PUBLIC INDIVUDATION Chan and Misra (1990) argue that public individuation is an additional dimension to the identification and description of opinion leaders by using conceptual references to previous studies to support their argument. They argue that the willingness to individuate oneself is the common factor which differentiates one from the rest of the group, and leads to one to be judged by others as being more influential. This is a fair argument in that opinion leaders' knowledge and opinions make them stand out as being "different" than other members.

However, yet again there is the lack of direct empirical evidence that can support the relationship between public individuation and opinion leadership. Empirical evidence would have provided a more solid statistical comparison and study of such relationship. 2.4 PRODUCT-RELATED CHARACTERISTICS In terms of product-related characteristics, Chan and Misra (1990) explain and state the importance of product involvement and product familiarity in establishing opinion leadership, however, no reference was given to the fact that certain product characteristics may be especially appropriate for interpersonal conversation, and these could be emphasised in mass media advertising (Turnball and Meenaghan, 1980). The comparison between opinion leaders and non-leaders's our ces of product information could have also enhance the differentiation between the two (Armstrong and Feldman, 1976). Chan and Misra (1990) argue that opinion leaders tend to have 'a great amount of cognitive effort to acquire and comprehend the extensive knowledge of a product or product-class' (p. 57). In another study though, Bruno (1975) pointed out that the presence of product-specific opinion leaders and innovators does not vary more widely by product category.

Turnball and Meenaghan (1980) also relate this topic to advertising, stating certain product characteristics may be especially appropriate for interpersonal conversation, and these should be emphasised in mass media advertising. Armstrong, G.M. and Feldman, L.P. (1976). "Exposure and sources of opinion leaders", Journal of Advertising Research, 16 (4), 21-30. Bruno, A.V. and Husted, T.P. (1975). "A media / product class investigation of innovators and opinion leaders", Journal of Business Research, 3 (4), 335.

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