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New research advises on ways to target early adopters

LONDON - Brands wanting to target early adopters of fashion and to generate a word-of-mouth buzz around their products via television should be advertising in programmes like 'Hollyoaks', 'Will & Grace', 'Big Brother' and 'Pop Idol'.

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New research into the media habits of consumers who are the first to try new products, or who influence the decisions of others to do the same, is aimed at helping advertisers and media agencies improve their targeting of this group.

The project, carried out jointly by Channel 4, Taylor Nelson Sofres and the Bristol Business School at the University of the West of England, identified "opinion shapers", who influence the opinions and purchasing behaviour of others, and the even more influential "connectors" -- those with a wider network of social contacts, who can move an idea from one group to another.

Both groups of consumers were shown a prompt list of 33 TV programmes with early adopters of financial services favouring cricket on Channel 4, ITV's late Evening News and football on Sky, while 'Faking It' on Channel 4 was one of the favourites of early adopters of cars.

The research also found that it is not always ratings-winning content that attracts these sorts of people, and found that they often gravitate towards more niche programmes that have yet to hit the mainstream.

Lucy Bristow, research manager for Channel 4, said: "This research gives us some key insights into different groups of consumers, who can determine the extent to which a new product is adopted."

The findings will be unveiled in full at this year's Media Research Group conference in November in Madrid.

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