All posts by dedierstolk

Word of Mouth and Social Media: The Case of Superdry

Superdry is a clothing company that was founded in 2003. The owner of the company started with a cult clothing store in Cheltenham (United Kingdom) in 1985. In 2003 the founder decided to work together with a designer to create a new in-house brand: Superdry.

Although the company only existed for 1 year at that time, it started growing exponentially in a short amount of time in the year of 2004. What was the event that led to this exponential growth?

Social media and word of mouth played a great role in the quick success of Superdry. Superdry focused on creating a unique brand that was different from the mainstream clothing companies. The founder of Superdry made a gamble by sending some pieces to David Beckham, and hoped that he would get some media attention as a result of Beckham wearing his clothes in public. David Beckham was generous enough to wear his clothes, and this soon led to Superdry becoming a famous brand.

Alongside with the support of the celebrities Justin Bieber, Kate Winslet. Nicole Scherzinger and Zac Efron, people started recognizing Superdry. This enabled the interaction between the company and its customers, but also the interaction between customers. People that had seen the celebrities wearing Superdry started to talk to their friends about the brand. This word of mouth marketing proved to be really valuable for Superdry. Normally companies have to pay millions to let celebrities wear their clothes, but Superdry did not have to pay anything. It was all part of their word of mouth marketing strategy.

In general, there are three types of engaging consumers through social media and word of mouth: functional, social and emotional. For Superdry the most important type of engagement is social. Social engagement refers to people expressing their uniqueness to increase their reputation. You can probably imagine that people that had seen the celebrities wearing their clothes wanted to be as unique as the celebrities. This social type of engaging customers fits perfect with a word of mouth marketing campaign.

Superdry even launched a YouTube channel called SuperdryTV as part of their social media marketing:

On this channel Superdry promotes their clothing especially for niche markets, such as snow jackets or rugby clothing. By engaging with customers on social media their brand is more likely to be shared within these communities. Superdry solely focuses on this social media and word of mouth marketing, and makes almost no use of traditional forms of marketing.

I would say that Superdry has proven that social media and word of mouth can be just as valuable as traditional marketing types. Do you know any other companies that have been successful in these new types of marketing? Feel free to comment them.



The different roles of product originality and usefulness in generating word-of-mouthcc

Have you ever heard of a product that failed because it was so original? The authors of this article argue that the Newton PDA, launched by Apple in 1993, failed partly because of its originality. After some problems with the initial version of the Newton PDA, huge negative word-of-mouth was generated in a short amount of time. This negative WOM destroyed the Newton’s reputation permanently.

This research investigates if product originality can lead to negative WOM, which harms rather than promotes a product. The authors explore when and whether product originality can lead to negative WOM.

Word-of-mouth (WOM) is known as the passing of information from person to person by oral communication (the free dictionary). WOM consists of two attributes: amount (how much people talk about a product) and valence (if people talk positively or negatively about the product).

This paper explored how originality and usefulness of products has influenced the word-of-mouth about these products. The authors hypothesize that usefulness is a moderating factor for product originality and product success.

One of the most interesting theoretical parts of this paper is that the authors assume that negative WOM (as with the case of the Newton PDA) is created partly because of the originality of the product. I personally belief that the product features of an entirely new product category play a more important role, and that negative WOM is just a logical response to bringing a new product to the market that is not working as it should.

The most interesting practical part of this paper is that the authors use a wide range of products to test the usefulness of products, ranging from memory sticks to massagers and even furniture. To test their hypotheses the authors used three separate studies with students from their university.

I would argue that some individuals perceive the usefulness of a memory stick differently than others. One of the individuals might know a lot about computer equipment and therefore knows the potential usefulness of a memory stick, whereas another individual might not know a single thing about computer equipment and therefore does not know the potential usefulness. This might lead to a misperception about the perceived usefulness and the potential usefulness of a product.

I would therefore want to debate about the following statement: The authors should also take prior knowledge of the students about the products in to account. This will reduce the bias of the students towards certain products.


Moldovan, S., Goldenberg, J., & Chattopadhyay, A. (2011). The different roles of product originality and usefulness in generating word-of-mouth. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 28(2), 109-119.

The Few and Far Between

Co-creation or consumer participation is a concept that reminds us of customers that help creating a product for a company. Take for example Lays or Nike. Their customers help in creating a unique pair of sneakers or selecting the taste for the weirdest flavors for their products.

But not all companies wish to create a new or innovative product, some companies just want to engage consumers with their brand. This can be done by starting a multimedia campaign for example. To make this work, you don’t necessarily need creative consumers. In the case of Jack Daniels sharing some of your favorite drinking stories will do!

Jack Daniels started a campaign called ‘The Few and Far Between’ in September 2014. For this campaign they had to search for people that had a great story to tell, so that they could post them on the website. When entering the website you can view 7 videos, listen to 11 audio stories or read on of the 6 written stories that consumers of Jack Daniels have posted. More stories will be added later this year. By engaging their consumers, Jack Daniels is creating a virtual gathering place where consumers can share their greatest drinking stories with the world.

The marketing team behind this concept argues that Jack is a brand that is rich in storytelling, and that is therefore makes perfect sense to find good bar stories all across America. In total the team has heard over a 1000 stories, but they only picked the best ones to be posted on their website.

Although this campaign might seem a bit unconventional, it could very well turn out in a great success. As mentioned on their website, people love drinking stories. So it is not that strange that the producer of the best selling whiskey in the world decided to create this platform. And by engaging their customers, Jack Daniels makes sure that they maintain the increase in their brand value (and  21 years of consecutive growth).

Oh and by the way, to avoid stimulating people to drink excessively they made a disclaimer that says: ‘You can’t tell a story you don’t remember. Please drink responsibly’.