Buzz Marketing

Topics: Marketing, Word of mouth, Promotion and marketing communications Pages: 8 (1626 words) Published: December 16, 2012

Buzz Marketing - A Marketing Communications Tool
Word-of-mouth communications (WOM), which earlier played a minor role in the


marketing communication mix of multinational companies, has begun to gain prominence among marketers. A research study conducted by McKinsey in May 2001 revealed that word of mouth played an influential role in 67 percent of U.S. consumer goods sales. The main reason was the decline in the effectiveness of traditional mass media promotions. According to a research study conducted by CNW Marketing


Research in 15 of the top television markets in the US, consumers did not pay attention to half the television ads for products like cars, credit cards, and pet-food. This figure stood at 42% and 45% for advertisements on home products and fast


foods respectively. The study also revealed that the incidence of skipping ads was even higher for consumers having Personal Video Recorders (PVR’s) like TiVo since it has the facility of automatic ad skipping. Such viewers fast-forwarded 95% of the ads on fast foods, 94% of the financial product ads, 80% of pet product ads, and 68% of car ads. In India, the failure of Fiat’s B-segment car Palio was attributed to the


negative word of mouth publicity that the car was not fuel efficient. Speaking about this issue, Hormazd Sorabjee, editor, Autocar India, said, “The perception, spread by word of mouth, is that the Fiat Palio had high fuel consumption and is one of the reasons why it lost market share.”1


“Flash Mobs! That's Buzz Marketing,” The Economic Times, December 24 2003.

This caselet was written by Satya Srinivas Srikanti, under the direction of Jitesh Nair, ICFAI Center for Management Research. Caselets are intended to be used as a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation.

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To order copies, call +91-40-2343-0462/63 or write to ICFAI Center for Management Research, Plot #49, Nagarjuna Hills, Hyderabad 500 082, India or email Website:

Buzz Marketing - A Marketing Communications Tool

To sustain consumer interest, most of the companies in the US are using various forms of viral marketing such as publicity stunts, creative advertising, and online communication campaigns. However, buzz marketing, a new form of WOM communications, has been really effective for companies and advertisers. Buzz marketing is the practice of inducing volunteers to try the company’s products, and then send them out into the world to talk and share their experiences with the people they meet in their daily lives.2




Companies operating in different segments have successfully made use of this form of word-of-mouth communications. In 1994, Hush Puppies, a shoe manufacturer, identified that the New York City kids were purchasing its vintage shoe models from second-hand stores. To cash in on this craze, Hush Puppies designed shoes in trendy colors like Day-Glo orange, red, green, and purple. These shoe models were given to some famous people such as rock star David Bowie and Hollywood star Susan Sarandon. When consumers spotted the celebrities wearing these shoe models, interest in the brand increased. The company restricted the distribution of these models only to select high-end stores like Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, and Barneys to generate publicity and create a premium image for the brand. The buzz marketing strategy led to an increase in Hush Puppies annual sales from 100,000 pairs in 1994 to 1.5 million by 1996.


In 2000, prior to the launch of Ford’s new car model, the Focus sub-compact, the company launched a buzz marketing...
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