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Personal Influence Marketing: All about Buzz April 2003

About This Report

Word of mouth—comments from friends and acquaintances about good restaurants, movies, doctors, and so on—has long been a powerful influence on consumer decisions. However, the rise of the Internet and other electronic channels has increased the power and appeal of this time-tested marketing approach, enabling a single individual to communicate to a large number of people at one time. Use of personal influence marketing, or buzz marketing, has typically focused on products with entertainment or fashion benefits or products that are novel or "edgy." However, companies don't need to have a new, different, or wild product to ignite buzz: Everyday products like household cleaners and prescription drugs are also buzzworthy. In fact, companies can use this marketing technique most effectively if they design their products and services with buzz in mind. Creating buzz calls for a good match between the product, the target consumers, and the technique for generating buzz. The structure of people's social networks, consumer mind-sets, the degree of involvement necessary to make a purchase decision, and the objective—to ignite, sustain, or reignite buzz—are all important determinants of success.