Tag Archives: marketing

How Brand’s User Base Visibility in Social Media Platforms Effect Consumer’s Brand Evaluation


Social media is a widely used channel for companies to connect with consumers. Approximately 83% of Fortune 500 companies have used some form of social media by 2011 (Naylor et al., 2012), which have increased even more by now. Many consumers use these social media platforms to get deeper knowledge about a brand and who affiliates with it. This is useful because consumers reaction to a brand may be affected if they know who other users are (Bearden, Netemeyer, and Teel, 1989; Berger and Heath, 2007). Via these platforms, consumers have the possibility to see other people who affiliated with the brand. This passive exposure to a brand’s supporters is identified as ‘mere virtual presence’ (MVP). This research tries to answer what the effect are of the different types of MVP on brand evaluation and purchase intentions, as there is still little know about the subject.

Consumers find more affinity with a certain brand if they see that similar others support the brand (Berger and Heath, 2007; Escales and Bettman, 2003). Because of this, it is expected that individuals who deal with similar MVP with the brand’s user base will experience high levels of inferred commonality. Therefore, they positively evaluate the brand. On the contrary, if the consumer experience a dissimilar MVP, they will evaluate the brand downwards. Another research suggests that when there is no information available about others, consumers anchor on the self and assume that those others are like them (Naylor, Lamberton, and Norton, 2011). Thus, probably a more safe decision is not displaying pictures of others at all, which is called ambiguous MVP. This ambiguous MVP results in that consumers will project their own characteristics on the brand’s user base, hence higher affinity with the brand. However, a brand’s user base cannot be completely similar to a consumer and is more heterogeneous. Therefore, the last form of MVP this research investigate is that consumers evaluate a brand more positively if they are confronted with a small proportion of similar individuals in a large heterogeneous group.

Findings from this study have the following implications for positive brand evaluations: (1) If the brand’s user base is homogeneous and similar to the target audience, reveal their identity. (2) Second, if the brand’s user base is heterogeneous, but includes users who are similar to the target audience, also reveal their identity. (3) However, maintain ambiguous MVP if the brand’s user base is dissimilar from the target audience. This will result in that consumers evaluate the brand the same as in the similar MVP context. (4) Lastly, results indicate that when brands are jointly evaluated with other brands similar MVP yields better performance than ambiguous MVP. This positive brand evaluation consequently results in higher purchase intentions.

This study contributes to the literature how firms can best manage their social networks in meeting strategic objectives and enhance their brand evaluation. Moreover, this research help to guide brand managers when it is useful to reveal the identity of their online supporters or to remain an ambiguous MVP. Thus, managers are informed which social media platform they should choose because some control over specific fan base is necessary (similar consumers in heterogeneous population). These results are furthermore most useful for new brands to establish a larger supporter’s base. And to manipulate MVP and find similar consumers, firms can target consumers based on demographics. For example, Facebook displays advertisements mostly to certain demographic groups, thus emerging tracking and targeting tools can be used to do this.  Because of this tracking marketers know where their new supporters came from so that they can adjust their MVP and target consumers that fit this demographic profile. This will help brand managers to decide whether to display the brand’s user base or remain ambiguous.

MVP

Bearden, W.O., Netemeyer, R.G. and Teel, J.E. (1989) ‘Measurement of Consumer Susceptibility to Interpersonal Influence’, Journal of Consumer Research, 15: pp. 473-481.

Berger, J. and Heath, C. (2007) ‘Where Consumers Diverge from Others: Identity Signalling and Product Domains’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95: pp. 593-607.

Escales, J.E. and Bettman, J.R. (2003) ‘You Are What They Eat: The Influence of Reference Groups on Consumers’ Connection to Brands’, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13, 3: pp. 339-348.

Naylor, R.W., Lamberton, C.P. and Norton, D.A. (2011) ‘Seeing Ourselves in Others: Reviewer Ambiguity, Egocentric Anchoring, and Persuasion’, Journal of Marketing Research, 48, 6: pp. 617-631.

Naylor, R.W. Lamberton, C.P. and Norton, D.A. (2012) ‘Beyond the “Like” Button: The Impact of Mere Virtual Presence on Brand Evaluations and Purchase Intentions in Social Media Settings’, Journal of Marketing, 76, 11: pp. 105-120.

 

How communication channels impact word of mouth


Word of mouth has become an important aspect of marketing. More specifically, word of mouth marketing is the most trusted form of marketing among consumers. According to Nielsen – a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, 92 percent of consumers trust word of mouth and recommendations from friends and family above all other advertising forms (Nielsen.com, 2012). Moreover, there are different channels through which word of mouth can be communicated. Examples of communication channels include social media, e-mail, face to face, or instant messaging, to name a few. Berger and Iyengar (2013) aimed to study the effects of how the communication medium can shape the message of word of mouth.

The main aim of their study was to uncover whether self-enhancement motives (i.e. wanting to seem cool or smart) and synchronicity (i.e. level of delay between the statement and response) of the communication channel impacts the brand or product being discussed. Furthermore, the authors distinguished the communication channels according to their modality (i.e. spoken or written). After conducting five related studies – three experiments and two field studies, the authors found that modality in fact influences what is discussed. Writing rather than oral communication leads to more interesting products and brands being mentioned. Regarding the impact of synchronicity, the studies showed that the asynchronous nature of written communication allows for greater construct and refinement of the discussion. Furthermore, asynchrony provides the opportunity to self-enhance, which in turn affect topic selection. On the other hand, when consumers have very little time to construct and refine their message (e.g. in oral communication), or have little urge to self-present, accessibility drives the topic of discussion. In these situations, consumers are more inclined to mention brands or products that are top of mind, regardless of how interesting these brands or products may be. (Berger and Iyengar, 2013)

In summary, these findings indicate that written word of mouth is the communication channel that naturally leads to the discussion of more interesting brands and products. This includes written discussions in blog posts, online reviews, and social networking sites, among others. The findings of this study are more relevant for explaining consumer behavior, however some managerial implications can be considered. Taking these findings, and the aforementioned fact that word of mouth and recommendations are regarded as the trustworthiest marketing channel, into account, impacts companies’ word of mouth strategy. Corporate blogs, in which employees interact with consumers in a more informal setting, have been around for a while, and many companies have attempted to launch viral campaigns, in order to stimulate word of mouth among consumers. However, some of these viral campaigns have caused backlash. For instance, McDonalds attempted to stimulate word of mouth by asking their followers on Twitter to share their #McDStories. However, this did not pan out the way they expected, as one user tweeted the following #McDStories:

mcdstories

All in all, it is important for companies to carefully consider their word of mouth marketing campaigns, as online communication channels have allowed for more elaborate and witty responses among consumers. This links back to the theory suggested by Berger and Iyengar (2013) that written communication channels provide consumers for better construct and review of their statement. Despite good intentions, a campaign can always pan out differently, as #McDstories has showed.

 

 

References:

Nielsen.com. (2012). Nielsen: Global Consumers’ Trust in ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows in Importance | Nielsen. [online] Available at: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/press-room/2012/nielsen-global-consumers-trust-in-earned-advertising-grows.html [Accessed 5 Mar. 2017].

Berger, J. and Iyengar, R. (2013). Communication Channels and Word of Mouth: How the Medium Shapes the Message. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(3), pp.567-579.

Research Framework, Strategies, And Applications Of Intelligent Agent Technologies (IATs) In Marketing


What is an agent?

Anything that perceives its environment through sensors and in return acts upon it(Russell and Norvig 1995).

What is an intelligent agent? An agent that displays machine learning abilities.

Does perhaps Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana ring a bell?

In “Research framework, strategies, and applications of intelligent agent technologies (IATs) in marketing applied” the authors attempt to define how are these intelligent agent technologies used in the context of marketing and how can marketers understand and exploiting them. First step towards that direction was to try and establish a marketing centric definition. Hence, Intelligent Agent Technologies are according to authors:

Systems that operate in a complex dynamic environment and continuously perform marketing functions such as:

  • dynamically and continuously gathering any data that could influence marketing decisions
  • analyzing and learning from data to provide solutions/suggestions
  • implementing customer-focused strategies that create value (for customers and firms)

The second step was to classify all marketing applications of IATs in a way that would demonstrate relationships and differences among them. A useful and understandable tool for researchers and managers, the proposed marketing taxonomy is depicted below:

 

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To answer all these research questions the authors reviewed the existing literature and then conducted 100 in depth interviews with managers form 50 randomly selected companies. Two independent researchers analyzed the interview data, that were then used to shape the taxonomy and the below framework.They also made some propositions that would help researchers and mainly managers to utilize IATs and ultimately drive company performance.

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Overall, implementing the right IAT can assist the progress of numerous marketing functions permitting companies to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Both firms and customers can benefit from them. Companies are in a position to understand and put customers’ interest first (through collaborative filtering, personalization, recommendation systems) and in return gain customer loyalty and trust.On the other hand IATs offer consumers value, by providing them with convenience, better information, customized selection and less information overload (e.g price-comparison engines or agents that configure and customize their computer systems on the basis of their preferences).

Strengths and Weaknesses:

%ce%b4%ce%b9%ce%b1%cf%86%ce%ac%ce%bd%ce%b5%ce%b9%ce%b11Since there was no concrete research or a fully developed theory surrounding IATs in marketing and subsequently no certain phenomena or existing theoretical frameworks to test, the authors rightfully opted for the grounded theory approach.So in contrast to the traditional research method they tried to construct a theory by discerning which ideas and concepts are repeatedly used in the interview data. These patterns were then grouped into categories that formulated their theory and shaped both the taxonomy and the framework.

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Although the authors reasonably based their analysis on grounded theory, whether they applied it correctly is another question. The fact that they reviewed the existing literature in order to formulate the interview questions somehow conflict with the grounded theory methodology. The goal of this approach is to discern natural patterns. However, the used questionnaires possibly inhibited this since they kind of predisposed the managers’ answers since the queries were literature related.

%ce%b4%ce%b9%ce%b1%cf%86%ce%ac%ce%bd%ce%b5%ce%b9%ce%b13Given further progress in recommender systems (or other means of reducing costs for the customer), a situation might arise in which a “ready-made” solution provided by the system delivers higher preference fit than a customer-designed product—which, on the other hand, delivers the advantage of enabling “I designed it myself” feelings.” (Franke, N., Schreier, M. and Kaiser, U, 2010). This poses a very serious question for companies. When it is preferable to let an agent customize, decide or recommend a product/website? How quickly and how frequently should the agents respond and adjust to user needs? Ultimately what is more beneficial for both parties, implementing agents or give consumers the freedom to tailor products and and websites to their needs. Perhaps, technological advancements and the machine learning capabilities of IATs could soon enable companies them to successfully distinct these two categories of consumers and accordingly present them the proper interface.

 

References:

Franke, N., Schreier, M. and Kaiser, U. (2010). The “I Designed It Myself” Effect in Mass Customization. Management Science, 56(1), pp.125-140.

Kumar, V., Dixit, A., Javalgi, R. and Dass, M. (2015). Research framework, strategies, and applications of intelligent agent technologies (IATs) in marketing. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 44(1), pp.24-45.

Russell, S. and Norvig, P. (1995). Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. 1st ed. Prentice Hall, p.31.

Can we give Joe his Brazilian babes back?


Yes, we can.

After my parttime student job at a large beer brewery, I started an internship at a B2B company selling plastic pipes, were I was responsible for the online part of their digital transformation. One of the challenges that I faced, was the content presentation on the website. We had four different types of customers. Customers which were all very different from each other and that varied from Joe the plumber to the boardroom members of larger building companies. Using the company website as a marketing tool hereby became quite hard, since I could not present marketing content on the homepage that was relevant for all of these different customers. At the time, I was not aware of a simple and relatively cheap solution for this problem, but last week I was confronted with a company that created a tool which could solve just that.

This company was Hubspot. World’s largest inbound marketing and sales platform (Hubspot.com, 2015) and provider of a marketing automation tool which gives answer to the what, when, and how question. Like I said, people have different needs in what sort of content they want. Presenting the same content hereby could decrease the effectiveness of the marketing activities on a company website, but still a lot of (mostly small and medium size) companies do not offer different content for different customers. Visitors could also be in very different stages in the sales funnel. If a potential customer is orienting what sort of product to buy, this customer does not want to be bothered by very specific product advertisements. The format how people want their content could also vary among consumers. Some people want to know every detail, while others are primarily interested in the bullet points of content and hereby the optimal format in which the same sort of content should be presented could differ among customer as well.

But what does the Hubspot tool deliver that overcomes these problems? How could the Hubspot tool provide even smaller companies with the almost the same a level of website personalized website adaptability that was formerly only achievable by the bol.com’s of this world? The Hubspot tool gives companies the ability to bundle of all of there online activities togethers and by letting these companies build a database that watches and listens to all of what your online customers are doing (Halligan, 2012). This database data could then be used to personalize company websites for different their customer groups. Customer groups which exist of consumers with the same sort of online behavior.

If I would have implemented this during my former job, I would not have had the content trade-off’s,  because I did not have to present all customer groups with the same content. Instead, I would have made four different content variants, belonging to the four different groups of customers. Joe could hereby enjoy his Brazilian product babes, while mister CEO would be presented with high level CSR stories and case studies.

Click here to read the former post of this author: “Marketingfacts, watch out, the students are coming”

  • Halligan, B. (2012). HubSpot — Inbound Marketing Meets Marketing Automation.
  • Hubspot.com, (2015). HubSpot | Inbound Marketing & Sales Software. [online] Available at: http://hubspot.com [Accessed 3 May 2015].

Oreo’s success in Social Media Marketing


In 2013, Oreo transformed not only its image and but it had also changed the advertising landscape with a real-time marketing coup. Their social media accomplishment was the outcome of a renovated company’s marketing philosophy and processes. The marketing team that is behind the success of Oreo helped with making the shift from a self-involved advertiser to a creator of lively content that generated a lot of buzz. They are now famous for being creative, tweeting on culturally relevant topics, posting fun Facebook posts. They hit more than a couple social media home runs and have shown true mastery of social media usage for Brands, from their Super Bowl tweets, the 100-day “Daily Twist” Facebook campaign, the “Cookie Vs. Cream” videos on YouTube, to their Twitter mockery with their competitor Kit Kat.

Oreo_Daily_Twist_Ad_Campaign

Though this famous brand of cookie is notorious for its black-and-white striped exterior, the brand Oreo is a social media powerhouse, as they have millions of followers on various social media platforms. Oreo frequently monitors the return on investment (evaluation of the sales ratio spent on ads and promotional endeavors). The campaigns that are a combination of traditional advertising and digital and social media efforts are analyzed to be twice as effective. The predominant key to Oreo’s success in social strategy is planning and channel synergy. The brand skillfully administers popular accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest to form an network of channels that participate and cooperate with one another not only online but also in offline print, media, marketing and PR.

Important lessons that can be used by any other brand regarding how to run a successful social media strategy are listed below:

  1. Be timely & topical with you social media messages

The term Newsjacking is the notion of placing a brand’s marketing message or opinions into a present news story. This is done to get extra notice from both consumers and the media. The term Culture-jacking has a comparable classification, but focuses on specific trendy events that are happening in a country. Brands can apply this lesson by beforehand creating a schedule of upcoming holidays and events, and posting on subject related to them on these dates. Speak on current real-time events while updating your status or tweeting, and thus be timely and topical.

  1. Promote regularly and with consistency

Oreo was very consistent with their campaign messages and updated their statuses or tweets frequently. They have reached the form of viral marketing by having millions of fans online. These campaigns would not have gone viral, if they did not have millions of followers, but previous these big successes they were posting 5,000 simple tweets, at a rate of three to four tweets a day, engaging with fans and constructing a continuing dialogue. Brands can copy this idea by having a plan on frequently engaging on social media with their followers build up a social community.

  1. Use graphics in your updates & make use of simple concepts

Oreo has posted social media campaigns with relatively high production quality. They do not only tweet or update their statuses regarding a current event, because they know that producing a well designed image while sharing a tweet or update can be more effective. The images of Oreo posted on social media are effectively designed and have a strong tagline. Brands can apply this lesson to by making use of more high quality illustrations, and simplifying their shared message.

  1. Above all: focus on having fun

The true intend of Social media is to be social. So consumers online love to be entertained by fun-loving engagements. All of Oreo’s social media campaigns are intended to make followers smile. Oreo speed while tweeting is amazing to watch, their shared images makes users smile and even some are hilarious. Oreo is not afraid to be playful, seen in their Twitter battle with competitor Kit Kat. Companies must above all realize that when interacting with a social community it’s essential to have fun with it.

Every company anticipating to increase brand awareness via social media platforms should pay attention to commitment, consistency and creativity, in a similar way that Oreo applies to their social communications.

References:

Bullock, L. (August 19, 2013)  “Social Media for Brands, What You Can Learn From Oreo.” <http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/social-media-brands-what-you-can-learn-oreo&gt;

Hayes, C. (April 16, 2014) “In the spotlight: Oreo’s social media team.” <http://www.socialbro.com/blog/spotlight-oreo&gt;

Sacks, D. (2014) “The Story Of Oreo: How An Old Cookie Became A Modern Marketing Personality.” <http://www.fastcocreate.com/3037068/the-story-of-oreo-how-an-old-cookie-became-a-modern-marketing-personality&gt;

Hayes, M. (2013) “The Secret Behind Oreo’s Social Media Marketing” http://www.shopify.com/blog/7589919-the-secret-behind-oreos-social-media-marketing

Photo Credit: <http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0070/7032/files/Oreo_Daily_Twist_Ad_Campaign.jpeg?817&gt;

<http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0070/7032/files/Oreo_Cookie_Social_Media_Marketing_Advertising.png?815&gt;

Word-of-mouth: oral versus written


Word-of-mouth has always been important. It has a crucial impact on customer behaviour. If someone recommends a certain product, it is more likely (more than 50%) that in the end this person purchases the product. Currently, it becomes even more interesting because the digital era makes it easier to communicate with each other. Nowadays there are more different channels you can use to spread the word easy and fast. Different channels of communication will influence the potential customer. But is there a difference between oral and written communication? Does the way of communicating affect a certain message? And could this be an opportunity for a company?

For me there is a difference in a way that written communication feels more anonymous. This is why I first thought that this would cause low-content and less interesting messages since people feel less responsible for their own messages. However, if I think a bit further I do think that in written communication someone feels also less social pressure to answer right away, which means that they have more time to think about their message. This could result in more refined, complex and interesting messages. At the same time written communication can feel more permanent (you cannot remove it easily) and the writer can be worried about the receivers’ expectations: e.g. my audience is expecting the world from me, now I have to live up to that by writing something really valuable. This is related to your online reputation.

Berger and Iyengar (2013) were curious and therefore did some research about the difference between oral and written communication and how this affects the content of the message. The results show that if there is more time to construct and refine a message (i.e. asynchrony), people will indeed talk about more interesting products and brands. Also a higher level of self-enhancement will support this effect. When there is enough time to construct and refine a message, people with a higher level of self-enhancement will take the opportunity to use this time to choose interesting products and brands to talk about.

Knowing the fact that asynchrony improves the interestingness of the message, written communication scores higher than oral communication. If someone asks you to tell something about a certain topic, you will feel the pressure to answer within a few seconds. You probably feel less confident about the topic and would tell more straightforward, less interesting and more accessible things. However, if someone asks you to write it down, the first thing that you probably think is: how shall I formulate this? What would be the most appropriate way? etc. There are immediately multiple things to think about before you are actually writing something down. You will give yourself more time to construct the message. This supports the research, which shows that in written communication interesting products and brand are mentioned more often.

But how could companies benefit from these findings? Companies want customers to talk about their interesting products and, as we have seen, written communication is an appropriate way to do so. At the same time there is an upcoming trend of digital communication: the impact of digital word-of-mouth is powerful because of reasons such as speed and its one-to-many nature. This means that companies should respond to this trend by investing in written communication platforms and a strategy for digital word-of-mouth.
People obviously prefer to talk about interesting brands. So in addition to supporting written communication platforms, companies should also give customers a reason to talk, evoke interest and surprise people by engaging, equipping and empowering customers. Like NikeSupport is doing with responding on conversations on websites (engage). These three E’s are important for building up a digital strategy and to make sure that customers are evaluating the brand as a more interesting one. Companies should take these insights into account to spread the positive word of mouth.


References:
Berger, J., & Iyengar, R. (2013). Communication channels and word of mouth: How the medium shapes the message. Journal of consumer research, 40(3), 567-579.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2014/07/17/why-word-of-mouth-marketing-is-the-most-important-social-media/

http://www.socialemailmarketing.eu/2010/05/wordofmouth-in-the-digital-age-introducing-wordofmouth-equity/

http://www.dotrising.com/2015/01/16/how-important-is-word-of-mouth-in-the-digital-age-infographic/

A new era in market research?


Technology has allowed us to stay in contact with each other 24 hours a day. At any point in time you can use email, Whatsapp and an endless amount of social media to get in touch with your friends and family. It takes almost no effort and it allows you to have a response within seconds. In the field of market research, the technology that allows fast communication is for a big part yet undiscovered. Something almost all of the market research tools (e.g. surveys, focus groups, telephone interviews, etc.) have in common is that it costs a lot of time, effort and money. One simple but very clever app might change the area of market research completely.

The app Upinion allows companies to do their market research completely differently compared to how they did it before. Upinion allows companies to ask real-time questions towards their customers using mobile technology. It works really simple: A company creates a specific marketing related question in the Upinion app. Then the question is send to all the relevant and targeted consumers which make use of the app. They fill in their answer and send it back, through the app, towards the company. All the results are then automatically collected and statistics and reports can be created within minutes after the company asked the question. It is also possible to set very detailed filters so that companies can specifically reach the people who belong to the research target group. So the market research turned from a multiple days or even multiple weeks process into a several minute process, all with the help of modern-day technology and this clever app! Intensive market research is not something just for the big companies with large marketing budgets, even small and local companies can easily receive interesting and useful information through this app.

So what’s in it for customers?
Customers get tired from traditional marketing research tools. “Can you please fill in this survey?”, “Can I ask you a few questions?”, consumers are asked these questions quite often in either supermarkets or through the telephone. In my experience, 9 out of 10 people do not want to answer these questions because it costs them valuable time and they do not get anything in return. With Upinion that seems to be completely different. Only people who installed the app receive questions, and by installing the app, people already give away that they are willing to contribute to market research. But the most interesting part of this app in my opinion is that people who provide answers, in return receive credits and vouchers which they can spend at the brands they just answered a question from. In this way, companies not only receive useful market data, but they can also increase their sales by attracting additional customers through these offers.

So both sides of the market have benefit from the Upinion app. Consumers can receive credits and nice discounts and companies receive fast and real-time data, and additionally they attract additional customers. I think this app is a form of real-time crowdsourcing in the field of marketing and it therefore elaborates on the trend of consumer value creation. I am really curious about how the app works so I will start using it right away, what about you?

Sources:
https://vimeo.com/85184656, Retrieved April 27, 2015
https://itunes.apple.com/nl/app/upinion/id691974292?mt=8, Retrieved April 27, 2015
https://upinion.com/nl, Retrieved April 27, 2015

Turn customers into brand advocates by using participation marketing!


Consumer value creation is hot and happening! The successes that can be achieved when crowdsourcing production processes and relying on consumers to create value are plenty: Threadless’s users create and vote on clothing designs that eventually will be produced, Nike offers consumers to design their own pair of shoes, Lay’s challenged its consumers to come up with a new flavor, et cetera. One area in specific – marketing – is interesting when looking at how consumers could create value for a company.

“Participation marketing” or “engagement marketing” refers to a marketing strategy that encourages consumers to participate in the evolution of a brand. This marketing strategy treats consumers not solely as passive receivers of messages, but views them as actively involved producers and co-creators of marketing programs. Two big players are using it with success: Coca-Cola and Yoplait.

With the average person in the United States drinking the equivalent of 275 cans per year, there is no need for Coca-Cola to focus on increasing their immediate sales transactions and acquiring new customers. Coca-Cola is shifting towards creating a more long-term emotional connection with their customers. One successful example is their recent “Share a Coke” campaign, where they replaced their product logos with popular names. This invited consumers to start a big wave of referrals on social medium websites, which resulted, for instance, in a crazy 341,000 posts on Instagram with the hashtag #shareacoke. This is one of the ways Coca-Cola uses to build loyalty and engage customers.

Another example of participation marketing can be found at Yoplait. Yoplait’s annual “Save Lids to Save Lives” program donates 10 dollar cents to a breast cancer foundation for every pink foil yogurt lid that customers mail back to the company. Since 1997, around 35-50 million dollar has been donated by Yoplait and their parent company! This translates into hundreds of millions of customers mailing their yogurt lids to the company! When customers actively engage with the campaign in order to support the cause, they are more likely to purchase Yoplait’s products and encourage others to do it as well. Customers are becoming so-called brand advocates. This way, Yoplait is building brand loyalty whilst also increasing sales.

The lesson companies should take from these two examples is to shift their focus from viewing customers solely as receivers of marketing and buyers. They should engage with them to create value together. This way they will become lifelong loyal customers and brand advocates. Don’t think only big companies with enormous marketing budgets can pull this off: the ALS association created the “Ice Bucket Challenge”, which went extremely viral. This led to increased customer engagement and more donations.

What do you think? Do you know other great examples of companies that used participation marketing?

How do you find consumers to create value with? Try automating!


Automated Marketing Research Using Online Customer Reviews

When shopping online, consumers often read several reviews of products they discover and many times base their decisions to purchase on the information provided by reviews. Research covered in class focused on the elicitation of ratings and reviews from consumers and ensuring they are valuable to the consumer. Reviews are not only beneficial for the consumer and there are distinct benefits that companies can extract directly from the information in the reviews.

In their study Lee and Bradlow (2011) use text-mining techniques to automate the analysis of customer reviews, forming valuable information for use in market research. Previous studies have not covered the analysis of market structure through reviews to describe the environment surrounding a business. Market structure analysis is an important part of the market research process, as many of the marketing decisions rely on information about existing the existing market; the potential substitutes and complements for the product. In order to form these market structure analyses, attributes of products are commonly mapped to represent different brands.

The study utilizes simple methodology to suit capabilities of marketers better; by combining techniques commonly used and less complex language processing. The techniques chosen do not require predefined product attributes to be tested which is how current market research commonly approaches eliciting these attributes. The authors’ rationale is to allow the methodology to be used repeatedly, so that analysis “can be done (unlike traditional methods) continuously, automatically, inexpensively, and in real time.”

The authors’ collected all digital camera reviews on the epinions.com platform between  July 2004 and 2007. By clustering attributes detected in product reviews into common attributes, the authors’ were able to compare these attributes to attributes found in expert buying guides. What they found when comparing the opinions of experts, interestingly, was that they have no consensus in what attributes of a product are seen as important. In their comparison study they found attributes from analyzed reviews to be more valuable to the respondents and discovered new attributes.

To prove the use of their methodology in forming overviews of market structure repeatedly, the authors’ ran the analysis on a parallel data set they collected from reviews in between 2005 and 2007. This showed interesting results as the changes in attributes matched the changes seen in the market in terms of company strategies and consumer tastes. When Nikon changed its marketing from promoting technical specifications to a more product benefit focused approach, the attributes used in reviews reflected the change.

Managers can use the findings of Lee and Bradlow to support marketing strategy decisions. By mining customer reviews, the company can see how its brand aligns with competing brands in consumers’ minds. Tracking how the attributes mentioned change over time can be valuable information in determining how successful campaigns have been. New segments can be found by clustering characteristics detected with semantic analysis. Spotting attributes associated with competitors’ products is valuable insight in how competition is performing.

The study showcases how big data can be used in marketing research and brings to light the great value customer review data has when finding the customers to involve in the value creation process. With the current popularity of social media analysis it would be fascinating to compare the effectiveness of analyzing reviews and social media postings.

Thomas Y. Lee, Eric T. Bradlow (2011) Automated Marketing Research Using Online Customer Reviews. Journal of Marketing Research: October 2011, Vol. 48, No. 5, pp. 881-894.

Marketingfacts, watch out, the students are coming


We’ve got the content, we can create visibility, let’s go make this blog big!

If you are reading this blog post, great chances are that you are a student at the Erasmus University. If you are not, welcome to the CCDC website, where content is created by students and mostly written by students as well. The idea behind this website is to make long and extensive articles accessible and to highlight the USP’s of consumer driven companies and online networks, like Created on Friday and Skillshare. It is meant to be a learning tool, but if you scroll down the homepage, the generated content could also be compared to that of an online marketing platform, like the Dutch website Marketingfacts.

If you compare the CCDC website to Marketingfacts, two big differences appear. First, the content is created differently. In the case of Marketingfacts, the content generated by a team of professional bloggers (Marketingfacts, 2015), and in the case of the CCDC website, this content is generated by students. Second, the incentive of the content creators differ. Were the professional blogger may want to share his or her knowledge online, the student blogger will be obliged to create content, since they will be graded for the blog posts. That said, traditionally articles created by students will not have a purpose after the articles were graded. Now, their created content will live on as blog posts, what can cause for online visibility, next to serving the student’s graduation.

So why is this proposition, the student driven online marketing and C2C platform, currently so interesting? Why am I dedicating my blog post to a online platform which nowadays only can attract 1000 up to 2000 views a month? Because there are two things which make this platform unique compared to a more traditional online (blog) platform: secured content delivery and worldwide university connections. Since students currently are obliged to create articles, the amount and subject area of content can be determined by the professor, an advantage which is hard for a normal platform to copy. Besides, in-between universities and professor’s alliances are easily made. Professors from multiple disciplines and universities could join, and hereby add students to the creation group, which makes increasing the amount and diversity of the content easily done. These unique advantages make a quite interesting case for becoming a large online platform.

So, if the professor of this CCDC course decides to make this blog to go big, what should he do to control content quality and to create online visibility? Again, let your students do the work. Visibility can be created by individual sharing of the content on social media. Of course a platform account can start sharing the posts, but a large group of students together can cause for even a greater amount of views (LinkedIn, 2015). High quality can be maintained by letting the students rate the newest articles (Hu et al., 2009; Tsekouras, 2015). The ones with high rates stay on the home page for a certain time, making sure they are written, and the silly ones die in silence, so that they will not harm the platforms reputation. All-in-all, the ingredients are there, now we have to execute it right. Marketingfacts, watch out, the students are coming..

Click here to read the former post of this author: “Can we all start drinking beers all day long?”

  • Hu, N., J. Zhang and P. A. Pavlou (2009). “Overcoming the J-shaped distribution of product reviews.” Communications of the ACM 52(10), 144-147.
  • Tsekouras, D. (2015). VARIATIONS ON A RATING SCALE: THE EFFECT ON EX-TREME RESPONSE TENDENCY IN PRODUCT RATINGS.
  • Marketingfacts, (2015). Colofon | Marketingfacts. [online] Available at: http://www.marketingfacts.nl/colofon [Accessed 26 Apr. 2015].
  • Business.linkedin.com, (2015). Employee Activation | LinkedIn Elevate. [online] Available at: https://business.linkedin.com/elevate [Accessed 26 Apr. 2015].

Fire your sales team, Boost e-WOM participation!


Imagine, you’re on a birthday party without a mobile phone, tablet or laptop but you would like to have some information about a certain experience good because you’re considering a buy. I guess you might ask your friends or family relatives about their findings and opinions. Think again how you’re purchase decision looks like after they share a negative story about that related product….

In contrast with the traditional word of mouth ( face-to-face context ) , consumers use blogs, search engines, internet communities, social media, and consumer review systems to gather information and make informed purchase decisions. Due to the rise of internet and the development of phones, tablets or laptops, traditional word-of-mouth interactions are replaced/substituted by electronic word of mouth. So e-WOM, defined as “any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual, or former customers about a product or company, which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions via the Internet” (T. Hennig-Thurau, 2003) is an important source used during the path to purchase or so called customer journey. Upon that, previous research conducted by Bickart and Shindler, show that customers actually pay more attention to the information provided by other customers rather than those of the salesperson or marketers because they have used the product and is considered as more trustworthy.

Understanding the importance of e-WOM, e-commerce sites attempt to encourage their customers to produce more e-WOM because consumer-produced information provides potential customers with a sense of trust. But how can firms (Online retailers), encourage their customers e-WOM participation, what are customers motivations and how does it affects e-Loyalty (customer loyalty in the internet market) ?

Blogpost 1

Research done by Yoo, C.H et al. in order to examine the impact of e-WOM participation on e-loyalty, has shown that both intrinsic and extrinsic motives have an impact on e-WOM participation. Specifically, it was found that internal motivation  most influences customer’s participation (fig 2). Customer’s participation is operationalized as the actual level of involvement and frequency in e-WOM writing and reviews. Customers participation behavior does have a significant impact on formation of Site identification. Site identification can be devided in (1) Personal site identification; the extent to which a customer thinks the image of an online shopping site matches his/ her own image, and (2) Social identification which refers to the identification that a customer feels with respect to interactions, via the e-WOM system, with other customers on the same online shopping site.( C.H, Yoo, 2013)

e-WOM participation behavior enhances social identity among customers. Additionally social identity plays a role in using the e-WOM system. It is for this reason important to maintain an e-WOM system for customers so they can develop a strong social identity on the site through enhanced interaction with other customers.

E-Loyalty

Finally, both personal and social site identifications have a significant influence on customer e-loyalty. Remarking,  that personal identification has a stronger impact on e-Loyalty.

Conclusive, based on the conducted research, when e-WOM is well managed, it was shown that it has positive effects on the  customer evaluation of the company and on intentions to repurchase.

Created by : Luut Willen

References :

Bickart, R.M. Schindler, Internet forums as influential sources of consumer information, Journal of Interactive Marketing 15 (2001) 31–40.

Hennig-Thurau, G. Walsh, Electronic word-of-mouth: motives for and consequences of reading customer articulations on the internet, International Journal of Electronic Commerce 8 (2003) 51–74.

Chul Woo Yoo, G. L. (2013). Exploring the effect of e-WOM participation on e-Loyalty in e-commerce. Decision Support Systems :DDS (2013)

Thank god it’s Friday!


A creative gateway to the festival Extrema Outdoor, the design and inspiration for a new buddha to buddha bracelet or the design for a new tattoo for Dré Hazes. These requests or so called Calls for Creation have already been answered, co-created and fulfilled using the Created on Friday platform.

Created on Friday is a video-based platform in which clients, creative minds and followers are connected in Creation Stories. With already 12 co-created final products and 16.000+ creative minds and followers, they are experiencing a promising start. What makes this platform different related to others and how does the consummation look like ?

Creating a Creation story process

1st FridayCall for creation

On the 1st Friday at midnight, the client submit a Call for Creation video. With uploading this video based Call on the online platform, a client opens the request for action towards creative minds. As already presented above, the topic of call for creation can be anything of choice based on the client request for a unique concept e.g. design, art or a new marketing campaign.

During the first week, anyone with a creative mind can respond on a specific Call for Creation by uploading their creative solution. Again this response will be delivered in the format of a video-pitch. The video pitch will be shown to online crowd, to give them a proper feeling and understanding of the solution proposed by the creative mind (person, company). The online public or followers, in turn, will vote for their favorite videos resulting in a dynamic top 5 ranking on the basis of video views and votes during this week.

2nd Friday – Winner gets chosen,  nr 2,3,4,5 announced

On the 2nd Friday the top-5 will be frozen and the client decides which pitch will be awarded as the number one. Interesting fact is that the client still can decide to choose a winner outside of the top 5. Having said that the client’s favorites are presented in a frame on the client’s Call for Creation page. This way the client can influence indirectly followers’ voting behavior. The nr 2,3,4,5 of the video-based pitching contest will be awarded with money. Besides the financial rewarding, the top-5 creative minds and their solutions will be announced on the platform making use of a video. In this way the creative mind talents will be shown to all the followers. On top of that, the winning creative minds will be part of the Created on Friday wall of fame.

During the second week, in a Meet & Making of, the client and winning creative mind co-create, further develop and fine-tune the winning idea into a final creation. Taking into account that the client is responsible for all the resources needed to come up with the final creation.

3th  Friday – Final creation

After 14 days of pitching, voting and co-creating the final product will be presented. Not surprisingly, this will be done using a video message on the Created on Friday platform.

 Success

Using online video content during the creation story, allows both clients, a creative mind and followers to share their findings and ideas towards a large crowd. In my opinion, the use of different social media channels ( YouTube, Facebook, Instagram ), makes Created on Friday a unique marketing “machine”.

Secondly I am really curious about the impact Created on Friday could have on nowadays marketing/design agencies. Noticing that these agencies mostly of the time charge a lot of money and consume more than 2 weeks to come up with a final product.

Since it’s founding by the end of 2014 , already 12 Creation Stories have been created. In my opinion, many more will follow. Top priority will be the supply of new Calls for Creation by clients.

Created by: Luut Willen

References :

Can we start drinking beers all day long?


To cover the inevitable expenses of the Dutch student life, I worked as a online marketeer at a large beer brewery for two years. My main task was to maintain and manage the online community of the firm, which consisted mainly out of people that followed the company social media accounts. Within this online community I pushed content in the form of company posts towards our community members, posts with which I tried people to convince a certain product was attractive, or posts telling our people that our new campaign was cool. But what I did was wrong. Instead of my strong content pushing focus, I should have engaged our community in engaging..

In the last decade, the term “engagement” has been extensively used in marketing literature. But while this term has become more popular, it never has been really been defined or differentiated from terms as “participation” and “involvement”. So when Roderick Brodie and his friends (2013) decided to write an article about virtual brand communities, they choose to focus on the consumer engagement in these communities. What really defines this customer engagement, and how could this customer engagement be created?

They started with the question how to theoretically define consumer engagements, since this was never really done, and came with the following comprehensive definition: “Consumer engagement is an interactive, experimental process, based on individuals engagement with specific objects (e.g. brands, organizations), and/or their community members.” After defining this consumer engagement, they start examining what was needed to create this consumer engagement in online brand communities. A netnography (Dhiraj, 2011) was done were 427 blog posts consisting out of 56.804 words were analyzed. Eventually, Brodie et al. (2013) came to the following practical conclusion: companies must start “engage in engaging”, they must form their brand communities in such a way that consumer interaction determines what is happening.

But how should this “engage in engaging” be implemented by an online marketeer, for example myself? Can we stop working and start drinking beers all day long? Unfortunately that is not the case. By implementing this “engage in engaging” principle, the role of the online marketeer changes, but it does not disappear. Instead of following the traditional marketeer role and hereby pushing content towards community members, online marketeers should be responsible for creating an environment that lets the community members create and share content. Interactions between these community members should form the community.

This is because according to Brodie et al. (2013), the modern consumer does not want “sales talk” from a company account, instead it wants “non-commercially” driven reviews and comments from peer consumers. This may sound like the online marketeer should lose the entire control of their online communities, but that should not have to be the case. In the end, it is mainly important that the consumers perceive the community to be “non-commercially” driven. This causes for a new challenge for the online marketeer: creating environments that are being perceived to be controlled by the consumer, but that in the end cover subjects that engage customers to buy products or services from a company. If this is hard? Yes it is, and if you are not convinced, take a look at this McDonalds example:

(YouTube, 2015)

Brodie, R., Ilic, A., Juric, B. and Hollebeek, L. (2013). Consumer engagement in a virtual brand community: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Business Research, 66(1), pp.105-114.

Dhiraj, H. (2011). Open Business Council. [online] Openbusinesscouncil.org. Available at: http://www.openbusinesscouncil.org/2011/11/what-is-netnography-the-effects-it-places-on-the-web-and-social-media-industry/ [Accessed 5 Apr. 2015].

YouTube, (2015). #McDStories RUIN LIVES!!. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0hh3M-EanA [Accessed 5 Apr. 2015].

Customer Empowerment at the University-Spar!


One way to involve active consumer participation is to let the consumers vote.

The supermarket Spar uses this consumer empowerment strategy at our very own university. Hereby, the Spar selects a product and visitors of the Spar can “like” or “dislike” the product by means of pressing a button at a touch screen. When the product receives over 50 likes, the Spar will add it to their assortment. When looking at the customer empowerment matrix by Fuchs & Schreier (2011), this strategy falls in the lower right corner.

Since the Spar gathers information and opinions about their customers, this strategy could be considered as a way of data gathering by means of crowdsourcing. However, I think this tool is mainly used as a marketing tool instead. To investigate whether consumers would like this product or not, Spar could also do a pilot by adding the product for a limited time to their assortment and after that looking at the sales figures whether this product is desired by the customers or not. Besides that, there is a possibility that consumers “like” the product without actually buying it.

The marketing aspect of this tool unfolds in two ways. Firstly, it functions as a promotion campaign for that specific product, since the product is given extra attention in the store. Customers of the Spar may buy it now, because the product is put in a spotlight, whereas they may not have bought it if it was, just like the other products, regularly in the shelves. This is a typical example whereby a store pushes the product towards the consumer (Balugly & Uysal, 1996). Secondly, this marketing tool can have a favorable impact on the image of the Spar as a supermarket itself. According to Fuch & Scheier (2011), (even passive) consumers perceive a higher level of customer orientation, more favorable corporate attitudes, and stronger behavioral intentions when firms empower their customers in such way. Even if consumers do not like the product or do not use the tool, it can still have a positive impact on the brand image of Spar, since consumers feel that Spar integrates consumer’s opinion in assortment selection. Interesting to see is, that there is no marketing found online about this tool. The only place where one can know about this campaign, is by being in the store physically. This is something that Spar could improve, by making this campaign more visible, as Claire Gilby (2012) E.ON executive of stresses: The biggest mistake E.ON could make was to not be visible.

To conclude, with having such a tool with already existing products, I would think that its aim is more for marketing purposes, instead of gathering data about the product or consumers. However, purposes and outcomes could be different with new product development.

 

Sources:

Baloglu, S., & Uysal, M. (1996). Market segments of push and pull motivations: A canonical correlation approach. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management8(3), 32-38.

Fuchs, C., & Schreier, M. (2011). Customer empowerment in new product development. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(1), 17-32

http://www.research-live.com/features/tapping-customer-energy-sources/4008187.article

CarSticker


In 2013 there were 8 milion cars in the Netherlands, on only 41526 km². That means a lot of cars in this little country. When living here, and going outside you will probably come a cross some cars. Especially in big cities there are cars all around, you have to watch out not to get hit by one! We from CarSticker saw this as an opportunity. Use these cars as outlets for advertisement, easy and quick, with car stickers. We see this happening in commercial sectors already. Like this cab in London.

For small companies and enterprises this way of advertising is easy, quick and not very costly. The company designs its sticker, fills in a form with its requirements for the Sticker ‘wearers’. The number of individual drivers in the database who actually meet their specific requirements will constantly be uploaded and displayed. Continue reading CarSticker

Recommendation Agent 2.0


Just like Don Corleone in the epic Godfather movie, the folks at Washington-based e-commerce giant Amazon are about to make offers to their business partners, the company hopes they can’t refuse. That the firm, like Corleone, relies on ‘capos’ to enforce these offers, can be doubted, but they have a treasure the Mafia never possessed. Amazon’s immense knowledge about their business partners, generated from all sorts of data, takes the firm to a stage where it plans to rely a huge part of its channel domain on its recommendation system. But let me explain.

After establishing overnight delivery years ago and the introduction of the ‘drone delivery service’ last summer, the firm filed a patent in January with the bulky name ‘anticipatory shipping’. The idea behind it could revolutionize the e-commerce environment. According to techcrunch.com the system is the next ‘step towards cutting out human agency entirely from the e-commerce roundabout’ (1). When set up properly the automated collaborative filtering algorithm will learn from the behavior of registered consumers and anticipate what they could possibly be interested in, before the consumers themselves think about it. When matched with a specific product, Amazon plans to wrap the item and send it towards the potential customers before an order has been placed. This means slashing down shipping time by relying on clients’ historical buying patterns, preferences expressed via surveys, demographic data, but also browsing habits, wish-lists and even mouse movements (1). Essentially, the system entirely outsources the consumers’ shopping experience and direct communication with Amazon on basis of an online recommendation agent.

Continue reading Recommendation Agent 2.0

Radio Rent-out!


So after looking around on the web in search of some interesting customer co-creation contests and products, I found this (quite interesting, yet not good-looking) website (http://www.co-creatornetwork.com/index.htm) in which you could ‘buy’ your own airtime, and create a radioshow.

For 85$ a week you get an one hour show. Although the theme at this point is your general enlightenment, and transcending your earthly state, it’s an interesting idea to transfer this idea to mainstream radio. If for example you are a fan of techno music, only listening to your radiostation, because it really fits your taste of music but you miss certain songs, or think you could do a better job. It might be an idea for radiostations to rent out hours, or give them away in a competition (in which listeners give either creative suggestions, or Continue reading Radio Rent-out!

Super Bowl Chevy


As you guys might have noticed last Sunday the 46th Super Bowl was won by the New York Giants (GO GIANTS!!). They won the 46th NFL Championship against the New England Patriots with 21 against 17. Well, pretty interesting and all that..but the reason I’m writing this post is because I’d like to share a really great commercial with you.

I think a lot of people know the Super Bowl for two things; the half-time show and the incredible amount of commercials (and advertising expenditures, an average of $3.5million per 30 seconds of a commercial). GM (General Motors) came up with the idea to invite everyone to create their own Super Bowl commercial for Chevrolet and the winner’s video or idea would actually be used as the 2012’s Super Bowl half-time commercial. The winning one is this hilarious commercial created by Zach Borst, a 26 year old student/filmmaker from New York. Check it out..

I haven’t seen all commercials, only looked up the car commercials and the Chevy one I think is the greatest, but here are two other ones that really give you an idea of how serious these Super Bowl commercials are with regard to the marketing budget as well…the first one is a pretty impressive one created by the Chrysler Group (with GM and Ford they form “The Big Three” car producers based in Detroit) starring Clint Eastwood. Take a look..

The last one i’d like to share is a commercial for the new and upcoming Acura NSX (Honda Group). The quality and the cast of the ad shows us how seriously these commercials are taken. And this one is pretty funny too.. Continue reading Super Bowl Chevy

Experience Economy


The experience economy actually consists of companies that provide and sell experiences to their customers. But, what are these experiences?

Let us first start with some theory which Pine and Gilmore discuss in their 1998 article “Welcome to the experience economy.” There are couple of things we think are most interesting from the article, the first one being one sentence which describes the economic value of an experience;

Commodities are fungible, goods tangible, services intangible and experiences are memorable.

Meaning that an experience occurs, and we’re quoting the article now, when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event.

Furthermore the article discusses two main dimension experiences have. The first one being customer participation, from passive to active. The other one is connection with the experience. From absorption to immersion. Take a look at the graph.

Continue reading Experience Economy