Green Marketers Need to Target Consumers Where They Spend Their Time: Online

The Internet has emerged as a primary channel for marketers seeking to reach and influence consumers.  For decades, TV has been the standard bearer against which all other channels have been compared as consumers spent more time watching TV than consuming any other medium.  Yet, today, that fact no longer holds true.  Across demographic segments – in particular, young adults (18-34) and the affluent ($100k+ annual household income) – time spent on the Internet is higher than on TV.  Green marketers need to take note and shift their focus and spending online. 

Young Adults: According to Jupiter Research, online young adults (18-34) spend on average 16 hours online per week versus 11-15 hours watching TV.  And while online, they are much more likely to create and share content than older audiences.  As such, green marketers need to prioritize online campaigns to reach young adults, and in particular, take advantage of this segment’s propensity for online content sharing in order to help accelerate awareness campaigns.  (“User Survey”, June, 2005) 

One great example of how to engage young adults online is the recently announced Save Our Selves (SOS) campaign.  Coming on the heels of Al Gore’s Oscar winning performance, SOS is a cross-channel, global awareness campaign about climate change that culminates in a 24-hour Live Earth concert (scheduled for July 7, 2007) that will be broadcast online via an MSN microsite (seen below with video of Cameron Diaz introducing Al Gore at the campaign annoucenment).  The concert is notable for its scale (over 100 performers on 7 continents), target reach (2 billion people) and use of the Internet to engage consumers (and especially young adults) via online broadcast (though not the first to do so).

live-earth_screen-shot2.jpg

The Affluent: As it turns out, not only do young adults spend more time online than they do watching TV, but those with the highest purchasing power – regardless of age – do so as well.  This week, Jupiter Research reported that the online affluent ($100k+ annual household income) population spends an average of 17 hours online per week versus 14 hours watching TV.   Moreover, as Internet users, they tend to be more tech savvy than those who are less affluent.  As such, marketers have an opportunity to engage these consumers online, with meaningful experiences and by experimenting with the latest Internet tools and functionality. 

Given the higher purchasing power of the affluent audience, Jupiter Research suggests targeting these consumers across the purchase funnel: higher up to build awareness (eg, seeding content on social networking sites) and lower down to drive sales (eg, paid search, posting product reviews) or to improve loyalty.  (“Demographics Online: Affluent Profile”, March 1, 2007) 

One great example of how to engage affluent consumers online is Toyota’s community site for hybrid owners developed as part of its “Hybrid Synergy Drive: Everyone Has Their Reason” campaign.  This site cleverly leverages an avatar to engage consumers when they first arrive on the site, and provides functionality that enables hybrid owners to connect with each other and tell their story.  Though linked to Toyota’s product site, the content and experience of the community resides on a separate microsite.*

hybrid-synergy-drive_screen-shot.jpg

The opportunity is clear:  as more consumers shift their media consumption online, marketers must follow suit and provide meaningful online experiences for consumers at each point along the purchase funnel. 

*Note: While essentially launched as a loyalty play, Toyota’s community has much of the content and tools that could also effectively engage affluent consumers when they research new car purchases.  For example, consumer-generated content from existing hybrid owners (eg, reviews, descriptions of reasons for purchasing) could be integrated directly with the product site or branded hybrid technology information site to support the sales process.  Moreover, the role of the avatar could be expanded to create a virtual sales team that discusses product features, explains hybrid technology, or answers frequently asked questions.

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