Types and Role of Opinion Leaders
Types of Opinion Leaders
Opinion leaders are of different types which have been explained below:
1) Generalised Opinion Leaders:
A generalised opinion leader holds knowledge and expertise in all subjects/product categories like consumer durables goods, speciality products, books, services, etc. However, such opinion leaders are rare to find. As most opinion leaders have high involvement in one product category which is why they are experts in only one product.
2) Market Mavens:
Unlike regular opinion leaders, market mavens are the ones who are highly involved in the market rather than the product. These people vigorously try to gather market information which they feel can be helpful for relatives and friends and they act as a huge source of information. This information includes what new products or brands are available in the market, the new outlets launched in town, which specific outlet to visit for a particular product, which places in town offer the best deals, which outlets are offering discounts currently, etc. Like most opinion leaders they may not necessarily fall among the category of early adopters of products which they recommend.
3) Surrogate Buyer:
The professionals recruited by actual buyers are called surrogate buyers. These surrogate buyers are responsible for assessing the different product options available, filtering a large amount of product, store & brand information available and giving suggestions at times. They also make transactions on behalf of their employer. There are several reasons behind recruiting a surrogate buyer which can range from personal to environmental issues such as low interest in shopping, high perceived risk, inadequate product knowledge, lack of time and insufficient product availability. A diverse range of roles is played by surrogate buyers such as stock brokers, interior designers, tax consultants, wardrobe consultants, etc.
4) Purchase Pals:
Individuals who accompany the buyer on his/her shopping outings are termed as ‘purchase pals’. Such opinion leaders fairly influence the in-store purchase decisions of the person whom they are accompanying. Every person experiences stress and nervousness, particularly when buying expensive or high-involvement products. Purchase pals reduce such kinds of stress and nervousness. Moreover, they also extend information support to the buyers (such as knowledge of products, prices and stores) and have effective bargaining skills.
Role of Opinion Leaders
The role of opinion leaders is explained as follows:
1) Authority Figure:
The one role performed by opinion leaders is the authority figure role. In this, the opinion leader offers his/her personal experiences alongwith providing product information and advice. In this way, the different needs and wants of current as well as potential customers are fulfilled. Just because of being an expert or authority related to a product, opinion leaders perform the authority figure role. All kind of knowledge, experience and expertise is available with the opinion leaders. They know exactly the different parameters based on which products in the market are evaluated. They also know the decision-making rules which help make purchase decisions.
2) Trend Setter:
Another role of opinion leaders is the trendsetter. They follow their instinct and behave accordingly, thus setting a trend. They do not care about the reactions of society. They prefer to try new products in the market and through their buying and using such new products they set a trend When these opinion leaders use new products or services and share their personal experiences with others more for being emulated, they tend to play the trendsetter role. Here, describing the personal experience important than describing the product (unlike the authority roles as
3) Local Opinion Leader:
Opinion leaders also act as local opinion leaders:
i) They belong to the customer’s reference group and
ii) They satisfy the consumer’s needs and wants by providing a product or brand-related information in a way relevant to group values and norms.
Alongwith giving knowledge and advice local opinion leaders describe their personal experiences with products.
4) Channel of Information:
Opinion leaders also act as channels of information between the promotion media and audiences. As soon as they pass the product-related information to friends, relatives, etc. they make the promotion message genuine. Moreover, they play a crucial role in spreading the advertising message. The more the advertisement message is appealing to the opinion leaders the more it will work with the target audiences.