Thursday, 4 August 2011

Is word of mouth advertising once again back in vogue?

Most of the marketing messages get lost in the clutter, din and glut of advertising – be it the huge billboards by the roadside, swinging danglers hanging at the point of purchase (POP), direct marketing e-mails popping up in your inbox, uninvited inserts in your daily newspapers, glossy advertisements in the dailies and magazines, public service announcements (PSA) in the blaring FM radios, television commercials (TVC) in your favourite channels, or the ubiquitous salesmen miking in the busy marketplace.

The credibility of such messages further declines when you have a plethora of choices in front of you – your conscience dwindles while choosing the right product. Among the “mee too” messages, it is really difficult to choose the right one.

You don’t believe even a single message as you are hit by hundreds of similar messages. However, when a near and dear one recommends you something, you quickly go and grab that product. Such is the strength of “word of mouth advertising”. That’s why the social network marketing is turning into a booming advertising haven for manufacturers and marketers.

As you see your close friend likes a product – be it a book or a new film, you tend to check what the book or the film is like. Instead of googling to find out more about the product, you believe what your friends and peers say. This trait of human has once again attracted the marketers to resort to the “word of mouth advertising”, and this time they are coining a new term “P2P communication” which is short for “peer to peer communication”. Though not a new concept to the advertising and marketing world, it has been slightly modified to meet the needs of changing times and trends. The use of consumers and employees to promote a product as brand ambassadors, is rapidly replacing the tradition of appointing celebrities as brand ambassadors. Cause it’s now obvious that you believe your peers more than a celebrity who might endorse a product for a quick buck.

Taking the cue from the brilliant advertisers who started portraying the common man in the advertisements and TVCs so that the masses identified themselves in the characters in the advertisements and TVCs, the famous Nestle brand Maggi is using its consumers as ambassadors in its advertisements. The consumers are invited to share the role of Maggi noodles in their lives in the advertisements. The less famous brand “Kurkure” also invited its consumers to be displayed on its wrappers. It was a clever move of the marketers to turn the peers of the people on wrappers into loyal customers. And it really worked! Let’s take it this way – A Mr. Sharma from Uttar Pradesh (UP) of India will not only attract and entice the whole lot of Sharmas from the whole of India but also all the whole lot of UP dwellers to eating Kurkure.

Leaving aside the consumers, the brand managers are also asking the employees to be the brand ambassadors and promote the brands though their Facebook profiles. It’s not new – you must have got requests from your friends to “like” the organisations they are working for or “like” the products their companies are manufacturing.

The advertising is once again turning back to the age-old “word of mouth advertising”, though through a little bit modern approach. Let’s say – how many times have you refused a friend’s proposal on trying a delicious menu at a brand new restaurant? You at least try the taste after your friend recommends and once you like the recipes, you are a regular visitor to the place. Haven’t you bought a shirt or a pair of shoes your friend recommended?

Well, I am hundred per cent sure you believe your friend more than the salesperson in the advertisement. So, I am sure that you will agree with me when I say that we are again returning back to looking for views and opinions of our friends and relatives before making a choice to purchase. And it’s the beginning – you will see more and more of P2P messages from your near and dear ones in the coming days. I am sure you will believe them till the P2P turns out to be a complete glut of similar sort of marketing messages.

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