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Study: Word of Mouth Among Affluent Women

The New York Times Releases Results of First Ever Public Study of Word of Mouth among Affluent Women

The New York Times Customer Insight and Advertising Groups announced today the results of a study that for the first time offers detailed information about reaching a key group of affluent, female consumers who have an exponential influence on purchase decisions — the ones who spend more, know more and talk more about the products they like. This is the first major public study ever released that focuses on word of mouth among affluent women. It provides much-needed insight into reaching these key consumers in five major industries: finance, fashion, consumer electronics, automotive and travel.

Given that studies suggest that a majority of consumer purchase decisions are made or influenced by women, this research fills an important gap in understanding how to increase marketing return on investment in today’s challenging economic environment.

Based on extensive qualitative interviews and a survey of more than 3,000 women with household incomes of at least $100,000, the research uncovers the behavioral and personality traits that separate these influential women, Marketing Multipliers, from other affluent women.

The study quantifies the purchasing power and influence of this vital consumer target. For example:

  • Marketing Multipliers in the consumer electronics category have almost five times as many conversations about these products than other affluent women; they spend more than twice as much; and more than half (52%) say they accompany family members on shopping trips to advise them on consumer electronics and other tech items.
  • Marketing Multipliers in the fashion category spend more than twice as much as other affluent women on clothes and accessories. They serve as walking, talking ads for their favorite brands: 76% are asked by others where they bought the clothes they are wearing (compared to only 24% of other affluent women).
  • In the travel category, Marketing Multipliers take twice as many trips, and talk more than four times as often about travel brands — including hotels, airlines and car rentals — than other affluent women.

“In a time of tight marketing budgets and an increased focus on return, this study provides advertisers a much better understanding of consumers who are powerful catalysts for purchase behavior and brand influence,” said Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising officer, The New York Times Media Group. “The Marketing Multipliers research will help advertisers effectively reach and communicate with this key group of customers.”

The New York Times research identified a combination of extensive social networks, past recommending behavior and personality traits that differentiate Marketing Multipliers from other affluent women. The findings show that while Marketing Multipliers have the exact same demographic characteristics of other affluent women, they differ in a number of important ways, including:

  • Marketing Multipliers have different media behavior, especially online, and are active contributors to the virtual world, not just passive readers. For example, they are twice as likely to post to blogs or to publish their own Web pages, compared to other women. They are also discriminating in vetting their sources: 71% of Marketing Multipliers say it is important for an ad to be “on a Web site that I consider trustworthy.
  • Helping other people, learning new things and knowing people from different walks of life are much more important to Marketing Multipliers than to other affluent women. Above all, they are plugged in to new trends: Marketing Multipliers are more than three times more likely to say being an authority — on what is in and what is out — is important to them.
  • Marketing Multipliers are more likely to seek out in-depth information on products. In the investment category, for example, 45% follow up on new investment products they see advertised, and 53% of Marketing Multipliers in the Automotive category “follow information related to new safety features.”

The research was conducted in conjunction with TSC (The Segmentation Company), a division of Yankelovich, which surveyed more than 3,000 affluent women across the country via an online survey. Additionally, the research company Just Ask a Woman conducted a series of in-depth, ethnographic interviews in New York and Los Angeles regarding the five topic areas.

For more information about specific industry insights and a copy of the white paper, contact Alexis Buryk at 212-556-1234.

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The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), a leading media company with 2007 revenues of $3.2 billion, includes The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, 16 other daily newspapers, WQXR-FM and more than 50 Web sites, including NYTimes.com, Boston.com and About.com. The Company’s core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment.

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