opinion leadership

OPINION LEADERSHIP Meaning, Characteristics

Meaning of Opinion Leadership

some people offer product or product category-related information to the consumers. These people tell individuals how to use the product, whether buying the product would be useful or not, which is the best brand among the available ones and from where it can be purchased. These people are called opinion leaders and this overall process is called opinion leadership.

An opinion leader can be defined as a person whose ideologies and conduct play a vital role in influencing people. He serves as a model to others. Such opinion leaders convey messages to a primary group which in turn influence the behaviour and attitude of their followers. Hence, in some marketing situations, directly communicating the advertising message to the opinion leaders might prove beneficial in speeding up the approval of the message among customers. Several advertisers have customarily made use of opinion leaders to give their recommendations to customers due to the significant role played by them in controlling markets. 

For example, some advertisers target influential personalities or celebrities to convey their message to the target individuals.

Opinion leadership is the process through which actions or attitudes of individuals (opinion recipients or opinion seekers) are influenced by opinion leaders. The influence induced by the opinion leader is primarily informal and interpersonal and happens between two or more persons, none of them indicating a commercial source of sales that would earn profits directly from selling something. It can be personal in the form of face-to-face communication (also known as word-of-mouth) or it can also happen over the telephone or through e-mails or chat groups using the internet.

Characteristics of Opinion Leaders 

Mentioned below are the main characteristics of opinion leaders:

1) Higher Social Status: Both non-leaders and opinion leaders have nearly the same social-class positions. However, opinion leaders have higher social stems within a particular social class. This does not imply that various class lines are not affected by personal influences; it does not occur frequently and happens more verbally than visually.

2) Media Exposure: Opinion leaders are highly exposed to mass media according to their interest areas. For example, an opinion leader for women’s style and trends may have high exposure to magazines like Femina. Verve, etc. Similarly, opinion leaders for automobiles may read magazines like Autocar, Top Gear, etc.

3) Knowledge: As compared to non-leaders, opinion leaders have abundant knowledge and interests in their influence area. Although knowledge is not considered essential for creating opinion leader influence, a good influence occurs on people who do not have much knowledge regarding a particular product/service.

4) Social/Outgoing: When compared to non-leaders, opinion leaders are more outgoing and social. They influence most of the people they meet with. Their companionship is liked and appreciated.

5) Innovator: Opinion leaders are usually innovative. However, this does not imply that they buy new products for the first time and become the first purchaser. Rather, it means that they innovatively do their part.

6) Familiar: As compared to non-leaders, opinion leaders are more familiar with group values and standards. It is because they have been chosen as leaders by the group members and thus they need to be familiar with the group norms and values to retain their leadership position and authority. For example, the clothing trend cannot go beyond or stay behind the current clothing standards. 

7) Individuated: Individuation is a condition in which a person may feel or act differently as compared to the rest of the people. Sometimes, opinion leaders tend to show the personality traits of public individuation. Such personality traits may involve self-esteem, high confidence, the capability of enduring blame or disapproval, etc.

By Arya

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