Growing in China using Brand Advocates


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Article in Oct'12 ADMAP special on WoM marketing

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Growing in China using Brand Advocates

  1. 1. W O R D- O F- MO UT H MARKETING 00 FOCUS CH INESE A DV O CA TES China’s authentic Consumer attitudes and the media landscape in China present unique challenges. An authentic approach to word- of-mouth marketing using advocates can be a potential game changer, delivering growth at a fraction of traditional media spend, writes Asit Gupta of Advocacy Asia G lobally, word-of-mouth means of communication. Over the last support beyond the top 20-25 cities (which recommendations of friends decade, the digital revolution has massively account for only 20% of the population). For and family have been boosted the scale and speed of this social example, Johnson & Johnson’s leading skincare consistently rated as the exchange of information and opinion. It is like brand Neutrogena is supported with TV number-one driver of purchase. Chinese whispers on steroids. advertising in only top six cities. To stand out According to Nielsen’s 2011 Global Trust in and take share from well entrenched players 2 Advertising study, 92% of people trust WOM Product proliferation, like P&G’s Olay and L’Oréal, it needs to cut recommendations from friends and family, contamination and counterfeiting through with heavy media weights. However, while the same figure for TV is almost half at Chinese consumers are faced with even maintaining SOV in the current six cities 47%, and for online video it is 36%. a huge amount of new products, some of is challenging, let alone extending TV support However, WOM of friends and family which are in categories they have never tried to new cities. To maintain media weights, is far more powerful in China and other before. Mouthwash, for example, is used by companies have cut copy length. China is now emerging markets, compared with developed less than 10% of Chinese households. one of the few markets in the world where markets. A 2010 McKinsey study on mobile Additionally, counterfeiting and sub-standard the majority of CPG TV media spend is on 15 phone purchase showed that WOM was the manufacturing are not uncommon. Thus second ads and not the traditional 30-second. leading factor at all stages of the consumer knowing that a trusted friend has had a In short, brands are in a Catch-22 situation. decision journey in developing markets, while positive experience with a new product is a Without massive media spend, they cannot in mature markets it was third (Figure 1). huge reassurance. grow, and without growth, they cannot fund In another McKinsey study, 68% of the media spend. Marketers are thus 3 Chinese consumers said they would consider A culture of fitting in increasingly looking at activities that can friends and family recommendations when ‘A nail that sticks out gets hammered generate ‘earned’ media, or, put simply, choosing a moisturiser compared with just in’ might be a Japanese proverb, but it create buzz. 38% of respondents in the US and the UK. applies even in China. In general, people find Marketers in China are well aware of There are three key reasons why WOM is comfort and security in group think and the massive influence of WOM in their more powerful in China, compared to other following (as opposed to leading). categories. However, most WOM marketing markets. Individualism is not as prized as in the activity in China reflects the old broadcast 1 History of information control by West. Taking cues from what others model mentality, even though it is mainly government around you are consuming is the norm. conducted online. Most people in China under the age of In a market like China, where the Brand managers do not want to let go of 70 did not see any commercial advertising challenge facing MNC companies is habit control. They want consumers to do WOM until the early 1980s. Even by the end of that change and habit creation, marketers need for their brands, but want them to include decade, there was only one TV channel and a medium which has high reach, high depth, the key benefit/big idea in the conversation. very few magazines and newspapers. Even and is also trusted. Historically, TV They forget that the message a consumer when more channels became available in the advertising has played that role in most hears is not always the same as the message 1990s, the content was controlled. markets. However, brands in China have they share. After all, a consumer narrating in Censorship of programming continues even faced double-digit annual inflation in TV his/her own words how the product now. Thus, Chinese consumers have long media costs for the last ten years. Even MNC enhanced their life or solved a problem is trusted the informal word-of-mouth within companies with deep pockets cannot afford much more compelling and relevant to their their social network more than any other to support their brands with regular TV friends than a clever tagline and demo. A A DMA P OC TOBER 2012ADM Oct FOCUS 6_Gupta_FINAL.indd 18 9/21/2012 09:57:31
  2. 2. W O R D - O F -M OU T H M AR K E T I N G 37 C H I N E SE AD V OC A T E S advocates Dettol, one of its global power brands, FIGURE 1 INFLUENCE ON PRODUCT CONSIDERATION Reckitt Benckiser China has built a community of over 30,000 mothers over In mature markets In developing markets a period of 12 months. These mothers are Stage 1 spreading the word about Dettol offline and Initial consideration Advertising Word of mouth set 30 18 online. Over 25,000 authentic consumer reviews, comments and photos now exist Previous usage Advertising 26 17 online about Dettol, a low involvement Word of mouth antiseptic liquid. This authentic user Previous usage 15 18 content optimised for search engines is influencing and converting other consumers Stage 2 24/7. Besides advocating Dettol within their Internet Word of mouth Active evaluation information 29 28 social circle, these consumers have also helped the brand team create and validate Shopping Advertising 20 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 26 new messaging and product ideas, in half the Previous usage time and cost of the traditional approach. Word of mouth 19 13 They are now pretty much like an extended marketing team on Dettol. Internet More importantly, the high RoI of the Stage 3 information 65 Word of mouth 46 Dettol Advocates community has been Moment of purchase proven by TNS brand tracking. Over three Shopping 20 Advertising 40 waves of tracking, the geographies with the Word of mouth Previous usage advocates community far outperformed other 10 9 geographies on all brand health indicators. In advocate geographies, recall of Dettol’s key message reached almost 50%, with no TV ads. mindset change is required to bring people buying your brand. In the past, to achieve this level of message marketing in line with the changed power The Boston Consulting Group in an article recall, Dettol had spent 10-12 times more. equations between brands and consumers. ‘Harnessing the Power of Advocacy The focus needs to be on conversions Marketing’ said: “Advocacy is a gift that keeps SUMMARY not impressions, recommending not on giving in at least three ways. First, there’s spreading, brand utility not brand content, the snowballing effect of recommendations. WOM recommendations are a powerful active advocates not passive followers, Whereas advertising can drive consumers purchase driver, more so in emerging generating reviews not views, building a down the ‘purchase pathway’ from markets with high trust deficit like China. sustained community and not doing one-off category interest to brand awareness, brand To efficiently and effectively generate such campaigns. consideration, and finally brand purchase, authentic recommendations, brands need to Every brand has advocates who like the word-of-mouth advocacy turns that one-way build a community of advocates and engage product enough to recommend it. Advocates street into a roundabout, as customers who with them in a sustained and authentic do not need to be paid to talk about the purchase the product encourage new manner. This requires a mindset change and brands they like, as it is human nature to customers to enter the virtuous circle. In new skills. It is high time we said goodbye share your positive experiences with other other words, advocates beget advocates to the 1950s model of brand marketing people. Connecting with these advocates, and and, over time, the cost to acquire new pioneered by P&G, which relies on brand engaging with them regularly, to seek their customers plummets. content around a big idea. Community, opinion or share value-added information, The good news is that brand advocacy Collaboration and Conversation need to be further cements their bond with the brand. can be unleashed for even mundane and low the focus from now on. ‘Authentic Advocacy’ The mere act of a brand reaching out makes involvement products. The Fiskateers that drives growth at a fraction of traditional them feel valued and respected. They community created by Brains on Fire for media cost will be the prized outcome of this become even more likely to recommend Fiskars, the garden tool brand, is a good new focus. your brand within their social circle. Such example of this. authentic advocacy may not be creatively Even in China, progressive marketers like more on word-of- sexy and win awards at Cannes, but it Reckitt Benckiser are embracing advocate-led mouth marketing at delivers what ultimately counts – more marketing and enjoying high RoI. For ADMAP O CT O BER 2012ADM Oct FOCUS 6_Gupta_FINAL.indd 19 9/21/2012 09:57:32