MARK202 – 10 – WOM and Opinion Leadership (I)

Summary of RG
– The groups we are part of, aspire to be like, or avoid
Membership, Aspirational, Avoidance

– Their Influence
Informational-via information
Utilitarian- via rewards
Value Expressive- via our identity or image

– What they influence
Normative – broad values
Comparative – specific brands and products

– Their persuasiveness by virtue of their social power
Referent power – we admire them
Information power – they have access to knowledge
Legitimate power – derived from job or status
Expert power – technical competence in an area
Reward power – power to reward
Coercive power – influence through intimidation

Information Sources for a purchase decision
Internal from past searches and experience (Actively acquired)) or low involvement learning (passively acquired)

External from independent groups, personal contacts, marketer info, experiential (actively acquired).

Word of Mouth Communication
“Product information transmitted by individuals to individuals”
Degree of Trust in Forms of Advertising
1. Recommendations from people known
2. Consumer opinions posted online
3. Brand websites
4. Editorial content
5. Brand sponsorships
6. TV
7. Newspaper
8. Magazines
When is WOM most powerful?
– Unfamiliar with product/category
○ New
○ Complex
– Inexperienced with product/category
Negative WOM and the power of rumours
“Consumers weigh negative information from other consumers more heavily than they do positive comments”
Transfer of Information
Assimilation: Distortions tend to follow a pattern from ambiguous to conventional to fit with existing schemas.
– Levelling (details omitted)
– Sharpening (prominent details accentuated)
Virtual Communities
– Virtual Community of Consumption
○ A collection of people whose online interactions are based on shared enthusiasm for and knowledge of a specific consumption activity
– Virtual communities come in different forms
○ Forums
○ Blogs
○ Twitter
– Marketers can leverage
Virtual Communities: Member types
Four distinct member types

– Devotee (strong interest, low ties)
– Insider (strong interest, strong social ties)
– Tourist (passing interest, low ties)
– Mingler (low interest, strong social ties)

(see figure 10.4 for ranking)

WOM Strategies
– Create quality products and services
– Use WOM in advertising
– Give them a reason to talk
WOM Strategies: Guerilla Marketing
○ “Promotional strategies that use unconventional locations and intensive word-of-mouth campaigns to push products”
○ Buzz agents
○ Brand ambassadors – e.g. Red Bull
○ Consider ethics
WOM Strategies: Viral Marketing
○ “describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence”
○ “Viral marketing refers to the strategy of getting customers to sell a product on behalf of the company that creates it”
○ Viral marketing is an approach suited to combining WOM and internet/new technology.
○ Pros
§ Low cost
§ Naturally target
○ Cons
§ Difficult to achieve success
§ May be risky for brand reputation
§ May lose customer trust
WOM Strategies: Crowdsourcing
○ No longer simply market to customers, market with them
§ Generate ideas
§ Solve problems
§ Evaluate designs

(Part of VM)

Opinion Leader
“A person who is frequently able to influence others attitudes or behaviours”
Perspective on the Communication Process
(see 10.4) Traditional vs Updated
Communication Model
1. Sender/source
2. Message
3. Channel medium
4. Receiver/consumer (cycle)

Between each stage is noise

Opinion Leaders are:
– Persuasive
-Technically competent, expert power
-Credible, have knowledge power, unbiased
-Interconnected and socially active, may have legitimate power
-Homophilous with those they influence
-First to buy, have absorbed risk, present both sides

– Personality
-Willing to talk
-Self confident

How Influential are Opinion Leaders?
– Polymorphic (expert in several fields)

– Monomorphic (expert in one, limited field)

Types of Opinion Leaders
– Innovative communicators
○ First to buy and actively share the information about the product

– Opinion seekers
○ Involved with the product and actively search for information

– Market maven
○ Actively involved in transmitting marketplace information of all types – not a specific product

– Surrogate Consumer
○ Paid for the advice and are active players in many categories

Identify Opinion Leaders
– Self-designating method:
○ Simply ask individuals whether they consider themselves as opinion leaders.
– Sociometric methods:
○ Trace communication patterns among members of a group
○ Best applied in closed, self-contained settings.
○ Used to better understand referral behaviour
How Should We Use Opinion Leaders in Marketing Strategy
– Use market research to identify opinion leaders
– Use opinion leaders as sources in advertising
○ Testimonials
– Use strategies to stimulate opinion leadership process
○ Seek out opinion leaders
○ Use guerrilla and viral marketing
○ Product sampling / shows
○ Personal selling
○ Encourage referrals
Opinion leadership and consumer behaviour
– Opinion leaders are a key consumer.
– Opinion leaders influence the consumer decision making process
– Know them and understand them
– Develop marketing strategies with opinion leaders in mind
WOM Strategies: Summary
– Virtual communities
– Guerilla marketing
– Viral marketing