Key Opinion Leaders

Description Key Opinion Leaders refers to individuals know in their field to which others look towards for opinions and leadership. These individuals drive sales based on their opinions, and businesses cultivate these individuals early in the product launch cycle to ensure a good opinion. So for example, these individuals have much say in the final stages of design of a new product. They are given early (beta) versions of the product gratuit for their personal use. They may be given access to commercial platforms (TV, radio, conferences) on which to present their (favorable) opinions.
Weaknesses

Once you step outside their often very narrow fields of expertise these individuals are usually no better, and may be worse, than other less-credentialed individuals in making the assessment of your product. See Tetlock.

Importantly these individuals, if they're very good in their own field, may often stand in the way of new and innovative approaches to customer needs. If they're invested in the current solutions, then they can suffer from Confirmation Bias+ in the evaluation of new and innovative approaches. New innovative approaches 'step outside' the accepted wisdom, which the Key Opinion Leader personifies.

Appropriate Uses Key Opinion leaders will always be useful as a touchstone for the introduction of new and innovative products, in that at least they will identify obstacles to public acceptance. Reasons for their rejection better inform both product design and marketing on strategies to increase public acceptance. Key is to involve the Key Opinion Leaders in a way that does not 'go public' until the product and its marketing campaign is ready to go public.

 

Further Reading