by Rose Lugo – Head of Global Marketing, The Insiders
Marketers have grown skeptical of the effectiveness of traditional advertising as shoppers at-large have changed the way they buy, flocking to online stores, skipping or blocking ads altogether. Shoppers rather seek information about products and brands on their own, ignoring ads, while they look to learn about other consumers’ experiences with brands they are considering buying. Consumers have made a habit of scrutinizing reviews and ratings even before purchasing at physical stores.
Shoppers Trust Other Shoppers
Shoppers are less interested in what advertisers claim, they pay closer attention instead to what fellow consumers have to say about a brand. In fact, Deloitte (2016) found that shoppers trust purchase recommendations from other shoppers, more than advertising, social influencers, or celebrities. When asked to rate their level of trust consumers responded that:
Interestingly friends and family are trusted almost twice more than celebrities. Counterintuitively, when it comes to consumer trust, larger reach often equates to smaller influence. Consumers place more trust on people closer to them, or “like them,” over popular digital influencers or ads, for example.
Shoppers very often have friends and acquaintances with similar demographic and behavior profile. Moms of toddlers tend to spend time with other women who have kids two and under. College students will often hang out with other college students and so on. Shopper-to-shopper recommendations are so persuasive because they come from people like us. These recommendations seldom miss the target, since consumers generally recommend products they think are relevant to the people they know.
Leading brands recognize the value of a consumer’s purchase recommendation to friends and family. The best marketers know how tap on the power of this direct shopper-to-shopper influence to drive sales. This can be accomplished by integrating a robust brand ambassador program into the marketing mix. A well-rounded advocacy activation pairs product trial with fun brand experiences. It gathers critical insights as it deploys intensive engagement to educate consumers about brand benefits.
The Insiders activate consumers, members of its community, who have the best profile to become ambassadors for each specific client brand. These consumers are called Insiders, because they are privy to exclusive brand experiences, such as product launches. Insiders are everyday influencers who share their brand experiences with the people in their lives. Insiders fit the target demographics and have the personal motivation that it takes to spread effective word-of-mouth about the brand.
From multinational CPG to consumer electronics brands, marketers rely on Insiders as their engaged brand ambassadors. Insiders share their brand experiences face-to-face and online, posting massive volume of authentic UGC in the form of consumer reviews, photos, videos, and social posts. Insiders’ recommendations have a solid record of breaking the toughest purchase barriers like relevance and superiority, bringing new consumers to brands and to categories. Brands enjoy measurable results in tangible metrics like Net Promoter Score, Purchase Intent, and ROI.
In a recent example, an activation for a milk brand leveraged the everyday interactions of 1500 Insiders to spread their purchase recommendations on and offline. The activation generated approximately 250 thousand face-to-face conversations. Insiders posted over 4 thousand pieces of UGC recommending the brand in the form of social posts, photos, and product reviews. The brand earned a boost in product ratings with 92% of Insiders giving the product between 4 and 5 stars. The reported purchase intention was 77%, along with 13% sales uplift during the activation, as per IRI. Insiders yielded not only immediate sales lift but also an improvement on overall brand health, achieving a Net Promoter Score of 77, from a painful score of -23 prior to the activation.
Savvy marketers realize that traditional push advertising no longer brings results like these. In fact, according to IRI word-of-mouth marketing delivers 4 times the ROI of other media. In addition, WOMMA, a division of the ANA, attested that word-of-mouth marketing amplifies the effect of paid media by 15%. Hence marketers who give into buying traditional advertising because of company culture, should take advantage of a brand ambassador program to amplify these investments. However, marketers who consistently integrate brand ambassador programs into their marketing mix see results in brand equity, ROI and market share growth.
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