Thursday, 26 May 2011

Big Brands embrace 'Word of Mouth' and Marketing for Good.

'Word of mouth' has often been cited as one of the best forms of marketing. People enthusing about a brand to their friends, who then may do the same with theirs, can spread far, costs nothing and as it's a recommendation from as trusted source, rather than the brand itself, can bring much better conversions. A jingle or advert could have a farther reach than the initial audience if they're catchy or funny enough for people to talk about round the water cooler.

Social Media took this to a whole new level. Literal word of mouth was replaced with sharing opinions between online networks of hundreds of 'friends', who could then share with their similarly sized networks and so on. 'Word of mouth' became 'viral' and had the potential to reach thousands upon thousands of people, and at each point, is still a recommendation from a friend.

Though being funny or catchy still remained a good way to increase the proliferation, traditional 'we're great' marketing messages fared less well, as the delivery was in the hands of the consumers, who may be cynical towards such blatant self aggrandisation. A new way was needed.

Levi's, the American clothing manufacturer, is adopting this new way in the promotion of their new line of jeans. We've reported before on the shift towards a focus on ethics in how business markets itself, and that's what Levi's are doing with their new Water>less jeans.

In the current landscape brands need to make friends with and be liked by their audience and having a social conscience and being concerned about the environment, is essential in doing that.

So, rather than the usual big advertising campaign, Levi's have chosen 'word of mouth' through their stores and Social Media to launch their new eco-friendly jeans.

As Levi’s vice-president of global women’s marketing, Mary Alderete, says: “Consumers are now more discerning and are looking for brands that share their value system. It’s not enough to just go out there, sell your product attributes and involve consumers in a transaction."

“The job of marketing is to tell the story of those products and connect emotionally with consumers. The way we do that is not with big ad campaigns, they’re more engagement campaigns.”

To consolidate the positive impression, Levi's goes even further with their campaign, actually including an element of Social Marketing, by encouraging pledges in cutting down water consumption from their customers and offering a donation to for every litre saved.

With business looking to give something back, it all sounds very Big Society, and is certainly the sort of activity that the Coalition is wanting to encourage in the UK. Many companies are already emphasising or introducing efforts to contribute more to society and the Government directly involved a whole host of brands in their Great Swapathon initiative at the start of the year.

TESCO have recently bought a 'word of mouth' agency for the not inconsiderable sum of £37 million, which demonstrates their commitment the strategy and the agency are sure to focus on the 'good' that the company does.

This is the new face of marketing and whether you're a small, medium or large company, it's a direction that should be seriously considered.

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