Opinion Leader Made Up Your Mind

Have you ever noticed that you have changed your way of thinking because some cool guy has had a different opinion? Or have you ever wondered why something really stupid doesn’t seem that stupid after one charismatic person doesn’t think it’s stupid. If you have, were you shocked about the fact that someone else influenced your way of thinking?People who gain such power to influence others are called opinion leaders. Briefly, opinion leaders are people who can be well-known individuals who are often well educated and they also have more media coverage than normal people. That combined with personal charisma make the opinion leaders look so attractive that other people may be influenced by them. Especially young people.

I understand, as a marketing student, the value of influencing people’s behaviour and therefore I know the value of opinion leaders for marketers. In addition, there is a huge opportunity for marketers to find new groups of customers by finding and then using opinion leaders. So a good marketer will search opinion leaders and marketers are obviously interested in trying to reach opinion leaders who are such influential people. Clever isn’t it?

However, even if it is an excellent way to market products it makes me wonder if it is unethical. I don’t want to seem naïve so I admit there is always something unethical about marketing in any case. Although using opinion leaders to market products is hard for me to accept from an ethical point of view. I think opinion leadership works usually the best in a group of young people because young people care about others’ opinions. And as we know, teenagers usually go for things that are mainstream. Therefore the people who marketers are “manipulating” are young and usually very insecure.

Opinion leaders are often charismatic people who could sell nearly anything to people. That’s why I’m worried. If opinion leaders can sell anything they can also sell stuff that isn’t good. Imagine for example a cool advert where a celebrity sells alcohol. Who looks up to celebrities? Especially young people. And what they might think when they see an advert like that? In the worst case scenario, they will think that they should drink because it’s cool. Now, are we on the same page?

Even though opinion leaders are not able to influence every single Homo Sapiens in the planet, there are always people who might not have their own opinions. In addition, if we want to act ethically right I think we shouldn’t try to influence people’s unconscious mind. Let people make up their own minds!

Rihanna in a Budweiser campaign.
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2 Responses to Opinion Leader Made Up Your Mind

  1. sarakuu says:

    I definitely have noticed this fenomena and am also freaked out by it. I’ve even noticed myself changing my mind about things vie opinion leaders’ opinions and realizing it afterwards makes me feel strange. Was it the good explanations and arguments that changed my mind, or just that the person was so influential… And especially ads for teens are bad this way, they look up to “cool people” and often try to act like them at least to some extent, I can only wonder, whether these kind of ads are monitored well enough..

    – Sara

  2. veeraoi says:

    Yes opinion leaders can have a bad influence on some people especially on weak-minded (is that even a word) but this is a problem in all kind of marketing. Marketing is supposed to create a positive image of a product because otherwise it wouldn’t sell. Marketer’s job is to make sure that the marketing is ethical by targeting the “right people”. Alcohol and other products that are harmful for your health we can’t advertise without thinking the ethical manners. Especially in Finland we have a lot of restrictions.
    Opinion leaders could be used more on things that are honestly good for people, for example marketing sports for young people. This way it also encourages people to be good.

    And thank you for opening the topic! Since I missed all the training sessions I feel like I haven’t learned much apart from my own topic! ;D

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