Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Will Marketers Kill Word of Mouth?
I am a strong believer in the power of
word of mouth. Study after study has shown that much more than what they see, hear and read in advertising,
consumers trust one another. Whether it comments from a friend over a beer or opinions of a complete stranger
read on a blog, word of mouth greatly impacts our purchase behavior.
12:08 pm edt
It’s all based on trust. I hope that won’t change.
But I am becoming concerned that some unscrupulous marketers may be going over the edge and attempting to manipulate
that public dialogue. Let me share a couple of observations that have caused such concern.
I was on a website the other day which listed 315 customer reviews regarding 3” chlorine tablets.
Let me repeat that, they are telling me that 315 average customers took the time to go to this website to give their
opinion about a very generic product (you throw the tablets in a swimming pool filter system to prevent the
growth of bacteria). I don’t know about you, but one brand of 3” chlorine tablet is pretty
much like the next, and if I was going to spend my time voicing my opinion about a product it would be something with a lot
higher personal involvement. So who were those 315 people (99% of which we were told were positive)?
Should I really believe that these folks all felt personally compelled to give their reactions?
That concerngrew when I read a story in
the New York Times. Apparently
New York’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has just come to a settlement with cosmetic surgery firm Lifestyle Lift, after
the firm allegedly published fake consumer reviews across the Web. Under the settlement, Lifestyle Lift
will stop publishing anonymous positive reviews about the company to Internet message boards and other Web sites, and will
pay $300,000 in penalties and costs.
Word of mouth is growing in its importance to marketers. How can we keep a few marketing
bad apples from ruining trust and spoiling the concept?