Informed Buyers Are Better Buyers

Sep 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

When marketing to specific types of ethnic group buyers using television, the task of securing current and relevant research information is the most important step.
Knowing as much as you can about the beliefs, attitudes and philosophies of your target customer base is the best way to ensure an effective television flight.
A recent study by Yankelovitch & Partners/Radio One reveals some insightful elements on the beliefs of several age groups of black Americans—exactly the type of information we look for when shaping a campaign.
To help us interpret this study, we called on Radio One’s CEO, Alfred C. Liggins III.
TelevisionWeek: This is one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on black America. Why did you commission this study?
Alfred Liggins: We wanted to get a full picture of the entire black community, with all its texture and nuances, that would debunk the widespread myth that blacks are all the same—a monolithic group. Even though people are less inclined these days to think that all blacks are the same, they really do not understand the diversity within the African American community.
To help us understand even better, we decided to take the most detailed look ever into this diverse population. This study is the first ever to look at the full spectrum of black America, from 13-year-olds to 74-year-olds. It also has very valuable marketing and product applications for Radio One and our advertisers. It allows us to ensure that our content best reflects our audience, and provides insight into black Americans for companies, organizations and individuals looking to reach this vital community.
TVWeek: How does it make us better television marketers by understanding this new information?
Mr. Liggins: The “Black America Study” can really help advertisers match their products with the right shows and programming. It is like taking a CAT scan instead of a simple X-ray. Until this study, advertisers and programmers had little more than age and gender as tools. Now they can understand motivations and connect them to behaviors ranging from program choice to brand selection.
They will know which African American segments can best be reached through broadcast media and which are more likely to connect online. They will be able to advertise more effectively to teens, who are totally unlike the negative stereotypes in mainstream media.
They may be surprised to learn that among the Connected Black Teens segment, almost 25% want to start their own business. Or that, among the Digital Networkers segment, over a third are already saving for retirement. This is incredibly valuable information for television, where blacks often feel a disconnect because coverage is often one-sided.
The core benefits are better targeting, better engagement and happier customers. We are already using this information in the way we program and position our radio stations, TV network and online properties.
TVWeek: Are any clients using this information already? And if so, how is this helping? What are you hearing?
Mr. Liggins: Since we announced the study in June, we’ve been meeting with many global companies who say that they are thrilled to be privy to the nuanced and detailed information the study provides. These marketers have indicated that the research delivers important psychographic insights about black consumers, which in turn equips them to shape their campaigns to effectively reach the audience.
Clearly, black Americans are a diverse and dynamic group, and if you are going to plan an effective television effort for this major demographic segment, this information will generally increase your chances of a successful campaign.
Taken directly from the report data, here are some of the most revealing takeaways in the study:
Myth: The overall group prefers to be referred to as African Americans.
Fact: Blacks are evenly divided on how they would like be described. In fact, 42% prefer to be described as “black” and 44% prefer “African American.”
Myth: Blacks relate better to black entertainment television programming.
Fact: Actually, 50% do not relate to the way blacks are portrayed in most black TV shows. And 40% think black TV is reinforcing a negative stereotype of blacks.
Myth: There is a digital divide, with black Americans being largely offline.
Fact: 71% of all Americans are online, and 68% of blacks ages 13 to 74 are now online.
Some ways to use this data to generate a superior response from a television campaign could include, but certainly would not be limited to, the following ideas:
—Choose imagery carefully.
—Select television programs based on qualitative data and psychographics as well as with raw demographic audience data.
—Consider carefully which spokesperson you employ in your television message.
—Scripting concepts need to be reviewed to ensure that the tone and style of the script are in keeping with the tendencies of the consumer base.
—Move with the market. Try to anticipate where the demographic is going and try to be first with the new “look” or “sound” that is evolving.
—Get involved. Getting your brand closer to the buyer means much more than running TV ads. Getting involved in the civic communities of your buyer helps you make the brand “real” in the eyes of the buyer.
—Research the impact of your initial campaign with small focus groups and customer evaluations. Getting feedback soon and often can help you make adjustments before you’re too far into it. Many a campaign has been saved by running ads by a demographic focus group before they hit the airwaves.
Marketing to a single cultural group has inherent challenges and requires specialized information and tactics. But the rewards for a well thought-out and articulated message can make all of the additional preparation well worth the effort.
Adam Armbruster is a senior partner with Red Bank, N.J.-based retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co. He can be reached at adam@esacompany.com or 941-928-7192.


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