Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Build Buzz with Market Mavens

Positive word-of-mouth helps convince people to shop at your store, and market mavens are particularly effective at broadcasting positive word-of mouth. Market mavens are a special type of opinion leader. Rather than considering themselves expert advisors on only certain retail products and services, market mavens counsel others about the whole shopping experience and recommend specific stores.
     Consumer researchers at University of Pittsburgh and University of Arizona have used questionnaire items like the following to identify market mavens:
  • People ask me for information about products, places to shop, or sales.
  • I like helping people by providing them with information about many kinds of products.
  • If someone asked me where to get the best buy on several types of products, I could tell him or her where to shop.
     Here are a few ways to identify market mavens in your community:
  • Ask your staff to be aware of customers who offer suggestions for improvements. This is one trait that distinguishes market mavens from customers who only ask questions, give praise, and give criticism.
  • Regularly ask your customers who recommended they shop with you. When you start hearing a name repeatedly, you may have spotted a market maven.
  • Team up with other local retailers to exchange information on market mavens. Research at University of Mannheim and University of Texas-Austin finds that market mavens aim to keep current about all sorts of retailers.
     Once you contact market mavens, offer them gifts, including the gift of taking at least some of those suggestions for improvements. Why go to this trouble? A study based at Providence College and University of Connecticut indicates that a main reason for the value to you of market mavens is the stable self-confidence with which they make recommendations to all the people they know.

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