Tag Archives: Word of mouth

The Marketing-Research Cusp

20 Jan

This is just one of the many contests floating around on Twitter (and other networking websites too) these days – a predictable fall-out of the Social Media penetration(actually – now expansion) – It really caught my eyes and I could not resist ruminating further.

A simple contest  by Cafe Coffee Day looks to me like an extension of Do-it-Yourself (DIY) research ( I am not sure whether it is intended or unintended). But this contest sure has an excellent multi-pronged usage:

1) Promotion of a new product,
2) Social Media Marketing (and hence, in my personal opinion current Word of mouth marketing) and increasing consumer connectivity,
3) Maintain and expand Loyalty,
4) Taste testing and Perception mapping – I agree, Perception mapping is not purely in its traditional, statistical approach but still, providing an image of the product and then seeking (collecting) Top-of-Mind reaction does give the coffee major a qualitative assessment of what their customers think of the new item. Additionally while traditionally taste testing meant contacting people, approaching them and then providing them with some incentive for taste testing, this is a kind of win-win situation where they assess consumer reaction, get a sense of the results with minimal cost and added marketing benefits.

Such promotion-research cusp essentially opens a huge scope for further creative ideas for marketers. However, there are certain pain points that I can think of:

1) Target – A very important aspect of traditional research/ data collection is that the sample ensures optimum representation of the average customer. But in this case, the followers have made the effort of searching  Cafe Coffee Day on Twitter themselves. Hence, in all likelihood they are ardent consumers of the chain. It is very difficult to track the demographic/ psychographic profile of the consumers from the website. Moreover, one also captures only the active social media user segment.

2) User Conversion – Also, a very important aspect of taste testing would be to convert non-visitors to their cafe into visitors. Hence, such taste-testing should be complemented with traditional research as well where one can test whether the new item would recruit new footfalls (especially with the growing cafe culture and growing competition in India)

3) Context – This medium of research also differs based on the context – We should keep in mind the Indian context where internet penetration stands at 7%-8%. Hence, we lose out on more than 90% people while carrying out research activities. The case would be entirely different in countries with high internet penetration.

In spite of the cons, this is just the beginning of social media exploitation for marketing. And even in the Indian context, think of a niche technology major or a study targeting marketers or journalists – Social Media is a great medium.
As for us, we need to think of the ways around these vices, which sure are present.

P.S : I have deliberately blacked out the tweets other than what I wanted to focus on.

The Virtual Word of Mouth

5 Jan

The importance of “Word of mouth” poked me in my face when I was involved with consumer/ perception tracking of one of the largest malls – month on month, it surpassed the influence of audio-visual media.

Of course, a simple fact which has huge implications for the mall marketers- their strategies and marketing mantras.

But to me, this fact leads to a series of thoughts:

1. What is the core behind Word of Mouth(WoM)?

WoM had a serious role to play before the mass-adoption of computers/internet came into play – where socializing meant physical gathering of humans. That was when people discussed about new trends/places/ businesses and experiences; that was when one could hear the juicy chutzpah!

But now, Social Media’s gumption and willing adoption in our lives have shrunk the social space – We socialize in our living rooms, at our workstations or via our phones, while commuting. And all the while, we keep discussing and sharing our interests: the funny piece of article, the new purchase we made, the trends to look forward to, the awesome but pocket-friendly restaurant .. dot ..dot..dot.

That brings to my second thought:

2. What has WoM evolved to?

All management students would remember the diagrammatic representation of flow of communication in their Soft skills classes. WoM follows the same, but is generally defined as oral communication.

Although officially word of mouth excludes audio visual-media but isn’t online networking an extension of Word of Mouth?

Viral marketing became the buzzword when “Hotmail” and its likes were launched – Creative and forward-looking marketers exploited it worldwide. The phenomena gained pace with Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and digital marketing has become a budgeted necessity now. This digital marketing works largely (though not completely) on the basic principle of WoM

3. Should the definition of WoM be modified?

Leads me to wonder if the Word of mouth should officially be modified to include Virtual Word of Mouth? After all, it is the gradual and logical extension. Should we, market researchers include Virtual WoM in questionnaires (that includes social media, mailers from friends/family and not direct internet marketing)?

Am sure Marketing masterminds and gurus somewhere are thinking the same.

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