IS “WORD OF MOUTH” LOSING SHEEN IN PRODUCT MARKETING?
As Watts says, “Influentials don’t govern person-to-person communication. We all do.” With the decreasing influence of the conventional marketing media, it is becoming more and more difficult for the marketers to reach the target consumer groups with their marketing message and some claim that the “Word of Mouth” marketing concept does not have affect buyer’s decision anymore.
Nevertheless, many still believe that people still listen and believe what other say, especially those they know and trust. The ‘word of mouth’ marketing has been in existence for a very long time and been running successfully, though some people disagree and say that it has lost luster.
As Jef I. Richards claim “While it may be true that the best advertising is word-of-mouth, never lose sight of the fact it also can be the worst advertising.” With so many people having same thought does this mean word-of-mouth marketing is not popular anymore or a dead duck? Not necessarily.
First, word of mouth is how brands actually grow strong: we call it reputation. This is not created by a separate activity called ‘word-of-mouth marketing’, however. It’s a by-product of doing everything else right: delivering excellent quality and value, providing good customer service, treating customers with respect, and so on. But the important aspect of it is people speaking favorably about the product, to the right people, at the right time and very often. However, there are many facts related to word of mouth which still holds true.
● Goes without saying that “Big brands get talked about more”. Word of mouth is closely related to brand share: people talk more about big brands than little ones. ● Most word of mouth is face-to-face, not virtual and people usually do not believe in feedbacks and testimonials. ● Word of mouth isn’t restricted to hidden bars and crazy viral videos. ● Most messages pass through ‘average Joes’ not ‘superconnectors’ or ‘influentials’.
Degree of influence has more to do with ‘willingness to be influenced’ than the influencer.
Is the mouse mightier than the mouth?
That’s the debate that’s taking place in word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing circles. On the one hand, social media has altered the landscape of WOM, helping spread buzz faster and more efficiently than face-to-face communications. On the other, most conversations about products and brands still take place away from the Internet. Word-of-mouth marketing is based on the simple premise that a recommendation from a friend carries more weight than an ad message. But social media has blurred what that means. Is a “like” on Facebook as valuable as an unsolicited recommendation shared in person or on the phone? Are fans and followers as trustworthy as friends (the real-life kind)?
However, social media is over-hyped and that is what word-of-mouth marketing evangelist Geno Church thinks. Too many brands are still jumping onto social tools and tactics without really knowing why they are using them, he says. People do refer to social media or sometimes rely on social media when it comes to purchasing but still get influenced and carried away when their close friends or relatives recommend a particular product or service.
In the nutshell, word of mouth is still the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. Its influence is greatest when consumers are buying a product for the first time or when products are relatively expensive, factors that tend to make people conduct more research, seek more opinions, and deliberate longer than they otherwise would.
And its influence will probably grow: the digital revolution has amplified and accelerated its reach to the point where some think that word of mouth is no longer an act of intimate, one-on-one communication; however still the vast majority of recommendations are made offline, not online – and they are usually made by close friends.