Answer1: The Vocalpoint program launched by P&G was a well sought out mean to market the products by using the word of mouth marketing strategy. Inclusion of the mothers from around the country was a cunning decision made by the managers at P&G the reason for this being was that mothers are the ones who usually purchase the products for the household or domestic use so convincing them and then make them work in marketing the new offering so an immaculate move by the management of P&G.
Another benefit which P&G gained by devising this Vocalpoint program was that, housewives are hard to target as they do not use technology that often, rather they spend a big part of their leisure time in gossiping with their friends hence the best possible way to market the offerings to them was by this word of mouth publicity. P&G earned pretty much short term and long term benefits by applying this strategy; the most outstanding one was that launching this program helped the firm in increasing the sales by a considerable extent which obviously is the sole aim of launching any marketing campaign.
In addition to this external clients of P&G also earned huge profits by using this program and so as a result P&G got its share in the profits, this amount was as higher as 1 million USD. The job of the R&D department got less hectic as it was able to get the desired feedback on the latest products; this was helpful for it in making changes to the existing products and also to the ones which are undergoing the process of development.
One of the long term benefits which came to P&G’s way as a result of this program was that it got a solid loyal customer base on which it can capitalize in the forthcoming years. The ‘connect and develop” program of P&G also got immense support as a result of this program and the marketing intelligence of the company overall increased. Better customer relationship management is also one aspect of the Vocalpoint program which was advantageous for the firm because it helped the managers in comprehending the consumer’s mindset and thus forecasting the consumers’ behavior became easily.
The customers on the other hand became increasingly brand loyal to the company as they were getting tailor made products for themselves because P&G was able to understand their latent and covert needs in an adept manner like no one else was doing. The overall impact of this project on the position of the firm was immaculate as it was a win-win situation for the company; the managers were getting the ins and outs of the target market in no time whatsoever so the overall time consumed in the processes of product development got reduced.
This decrease in the overall product development time acted as a competitive advantage for the managers as they were able to deliver the market with the products it wanted in much lesser time than the competitors. Another addition was that the managers at the firm were getting customer generated feedback on the latest products and that too in negligible time so this enabled them to alter their strategies if needed be; the consumer on the other hand were liking this as they were getting tailor-made products for their usage (Sirgy 1998).
Answer2: Analyzing from the business perspective one has to say that the programs such as Vocalpoint and Tremor must go on as they are beneficial for the businesses in the longer run and same is the case with P&G. Having said that one has to admit that these projects and programs are certainly not the ones, which are based on the ethical principles and norms laid by the society.
In my opinion there are various ethical issues which are present in such kind of WoM programs. The first and the foremost being is that the person to whom the offering is being marketed is unaware of the reality he is perceiving the interaction as a social one but in general the other person is acting as a sales person for a specific firm. My objection regarding this is that if a person is being marketed something then he must have prior knowledge of this.
For me there is a thin line between marketing and deceiving and this difference has to be understood by the firms and the marketing managers; if there are ample ethical ways of marketing then what is the point in using the deceptive means? Another issue in my opinion is that by hiring or deploying WoM marketers the managers are making the society increasingly materialistic even the sacred relationships like friendship etc are being used just as an asset and even that without the other person being aware of this all.
Objectifying the society is one thing which to me is intolerable and as this eventually ruins the whole basic structure of the civilization which really is denting in terms of the future perspectives. Considering the Tremor program I can firmly state that this was one project on which I have serious reservations; the reason for this being is that P&G was using minors (children under 18 years ) to market its products; this is one ridiculous way of marketing.
The reason for this is that this is the age where the person learns the most, from its society and surroundings and if the society is indulged in inducing the materialistic thoughts in kids then this will be injurious for the entire social setup; this is the stage at which the children must be taught how to honor and value the relationships but such deceptive marketing projects destroys the whole brought up of a child.
One legal issue which too arises as a result of the inclusion of minors in the marketing programs is that these kids are underage legally so they cannot be made a part of any marketing project without the prior consent of their guardians (Malachowski 2001); this is one thing which was completely neglected by the managers at P&G and hence they violated the rules and regulations laid by the government.
In the Tremor programs the minors were not allowed to tell the reality to the person to which they are interacting this is something which is immoral and to me for this the firm has to be penalized; can we teach our younger generations to indulge into immoral activities just for the sake of money? This is a million dollar question which has to be answered by the managers at P&G.
The Tremor program targeted the minors too which is also an unethical way of making business the reason for this is that the underage people are immature hence they cannot make decisions for themselves (Malachowski 2001); influencing a buyer’s decision by using rational marketing ploys is a justifiable act but making the kids addict by using deceptive means and backdoor channels has to be abandoned as this certainly is not favorable for the social composition.
In sum commercialization of human relationships is one thing which must be stopped by the marketing managers if someone is indulging in WoM marketing of a firm then he should disclose his affiliation as this is beneficial for the society; involving money in the activities of daily life will hurt the society in the longer run.
In the Vocalpoint program the managers at P&G were looking to select the mothers which are more social; the main reason behind this move was that, as mother is the most sacred and trustworthy relationship in this universe so mothers enjoy a unique position in the society; using their social stature for the marketing purposes was an unreasonable attempt.
Answer 3: The value of WoM is immense in the present global marketing scenario, the primary reason for this is that due to the increase in the globalization the nature of the competition has increased exponentially and so to do business and earn profits a firm has to market it’s offering to the target buyers. With the increase in the intensity of competition and technology the media of marketing have too increased and thus in such an overall marketing environment WoM publicity is something which is of great significance (Bothma 2003).
Direct marketing and interactive marketing have always been profitable ways of interacting and influencing the consumers the reason behind this is that first of all these means are less expensive than the other marketing tactics (Tuckwell 2004). In addition to this the marketers get to know more about the ins and outs of the buyer’s black box; as known that these are the two methods which are an integral part of the IMC mix hence applying them together makes it easier for the marketers to timely comprehend the latent and covert needs of the buyers and thus they can make the necessary changes to the offerings and strategies.
WoM advocacy is beneficial in the present scenario because it enables the marketers to interact with the customers and hence they can obtain the customer generated feedback regarding their products in addition to this, as there is no such middle channel involved in between the marketer and the buyer (as the WoM marketer is a part of the company) so it becomes easier to get the message of the consumer.
The firms once get the timely feedback can make suitable adjustments and alterations in the product designs, strategies etc and in this way eventually WoM publicity acts as a source of competitive advantage for the company in this era of fierce competition. After understanding the consumer psyche if need be, then suitable sales promotions can be launched which are an essential component of the overall IMC mix (Blakeman 2009)
The holistic marketing concept has to be applied as per the book because consumer centricity is something plays a vital role in the overall growth of the firm. Establishing long term business relations with the buyers is only possible if the market is provided with what is demanded by it. The nature of the relationship between the firm and its related publics should be exceptional, as this affects the performance of the company in the longer run WoM publicity is one thing which helps in building stronger relationships between the publics and the company (Baker 2001).