Wednesday, July 16, 2008

For the love of chocolate

For someone who finds quantifying everything by the numbers to be a mind-numbing way to reach any sort of conclusion, let alone one that involves human beings, I get a surprising amount of pleasure out of the odd whacky statistic that gets sent my way. The truth is that you can’t keep a good research vampire down. Garlic doesn’t work and wooden stakes just make them laugh into their calculators so you might as well enjoy what you can. This week some wit sent me a set of figures that show that women would sacrifice anything but chocolate for blogging. This important piece of news – note to self: get R&D to develop chocolate keypads – came after interviewing over 6,000 women. “Er…excuse me, we have an important question for you. Assuming you had to make the choice, would you rather blog or eat chocolate?”

Ok, they did ask other questions too. That’s how they also discovered that 55 percent would give up alcohol rather than lose the right to blog, 42 percent (the musically challenged, I imagine) would give up their iPod, and in an alarm bell for the women’s magazine industry, 43 percent would give up newspapers and magazines. As I have already flagged, only 20 percent would give up chocolate. So what does this tell us, apart from the fact that chocolate is irresistible? (especially Cadbury’s Dairy Milk - a Lovemark for gorillas everywhere!) To me, it says that these women are finding the sense of community and identity they need in blogging, which should be worrying for the people who market magazines and newspapers as this is something they once owned.

As I have found with my own blog, the ability to exchange ideas and experiences with a global community is both exhilarating and fruitful. It is a world where you can float an idea or an opinion in your own time, at your own speed, and to an audience that grows or diminishes on nothing more than your powers of attraction. Blogging is revealing itself as deeply emotional and an important way to unleash communities and passions, commitment and truth. Newspapers and magazines have already dipped their toes into this world, but their next reinvention will have to take blogging from their readers far more seriously. Selected columnists blogging is not the same as readers becoming activists, creators, connectors. Magazines and newspapers need even more audience participation. If they do it right, women night even sacrifice their beloved chocolate now and then.