When is the last time a co-worker influenced your buying decisions? Vacation spot? Type of car? Where to get lunch?

It's not just your co-workers, but you siblings, friends, and even your kids. Anybody you spend time with in close proximity has real influence on what you buy. Whether we realize it or not, proximity marketing is one of the biggest influencers of the decisions that we (and our potential clients) make.

Most marketers don't even think about this. They are so focused on reaching the individual that they miss the sentiment of the community. It's a place and interaction that is too hard to control, but it's the most powerful by far.

Here enters "net perception," a way to understand and influence these conversations. You calculate net perception by taking the number of people who advocate for your product and subtract that number from the number people that advocate against your product.

Here is an example of net perception in action. At The Odyssey we are surveying 18-24 year old trendsetters all the time so that we can understand market trends as they happen--one study we did last year was surveying automotive use and preferences. Sample size is over 1,000.

First we asked: "What brand (non-luxury) would you most want to be seen in?"

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We then asked "What brand (non-luxury) would you least want to be seen in?

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Our 18-24 year old respondents said that they want to be seen in a Ford, and they don't want to be seen in a Kia.


But let's look at the net perception.


These brands have a net positive perception, this means more people are advocating for them than against them:

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These brands have a net negative perception, meaning more people are advocating against them than for them:

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According to the survey, Ford is the brand that most 18-24 year olds want to be seen in, but Jeep is the brand with the highest positive net perception.


Lets consider this in action. Somebody is thinking of buying an SUV and they ask their co-workers about it. They are considering a Ford Explorer and a Jeep Grand Cherokee. They are leaning toward the Ford, but after several friends discourage it and even more people promote Jeep, the buyer may just change their mind. As a brand you want as many people advocating for you in the community as possible.


And if you are a salesperson for Kia, the last thing you want consumers in the 18-24 year old demographic to do is ask their friends what they think.

The key takeaways from our survey are that the people who you spend real time in proximity with influence tons of choices, and that being the most desired brand is great, but having the highest net perception is what effects the purchase the most.