The world of communication and media marketing has changed astonishingly in the last 10 years, and marketing models have changed as marketers have learned to use new technologies to broadcast their message to consumers.
Marketers have also realised that new media give them not only a new marketing strategy but also a source of up-to-the-minute information on how and why consumers consume. This marked a watershed moment in marketing practices because, the transition from one basic marketing model to another: from the analysis of market segmentation to that of consumer behaviour.
Market segmentation was marketing right from the modern inception of the term. Groups of homogenous consumers defined by geo segmentation, by education or social class were deemed to all behave in the same way towards the purchasing of any consumer good.
The modern insight was to realise that such behaviour is not any more homogenous within consumer groups. People make purchases according to a variable behaviour model which is function both of traditional product variables (content, price, distribution outlet etc.) but also, and greatly so, function of individual variables such as psychology, personal economic situation, self-awareness and others.
If 10 years ago an urban, affluent woman in her mid-thirties bought high-end skincare products and high-end lipstick and nail varnish too, the same type of woman is still likely to buy high-end skincare nowadays, recognising the high value of the product, but will shift to mass-market lipstick with no qualms.
Marketers need to know that consumers will consume “cross-segment”: i.e. that a mid-thirties affluent woman will not just buy skincare product x because she needs it and the brand satisfies her. And crucially, they need to know whether with that purchase she wants to treat herself, or save money, or is looking for the lowest absolute price or for a reasonable price-quality trade off.
The only way to catch this woman with the right message will be through cross-media strategies. In the end, there will not be a single marketing media flavour that will prove perfect, but it will be a bouquet of flavours. And this is where social media come in very powerfully.
The key factor is that social media such as Facebook or any blog or wiki bring together individuals and communities (hence the opportunity to segment) who create and share content. Information (content) is both generated and responded to by the general public and private and public institutions. We are not talking about mass, hit-and-miss TV advertising.
Interaction is a key factor. Through social media companies can understand consumers by monitoring their responses to targeted stimuli. And as these stimuli will not be purely concerned with straight buy/not buy preferences, responses will tell a lot about consumers psychology and ultimately make it possible for companies to strike a variety of chords in consumers’ minds.
A stunning example of a social media-based marketing campaign was the recent Oreo cookies (a Kraft brand) 100 years celebration campaign in the USA. It reached nearly 28 millions worldwide Fb fans of the historic chocolate cookie, with 100 different messages, a feat which no single traditional media platform (think of the cost of broadcasting 100 different messages with an appropriate TV planning in the USA alone) could manage and which finished with an interactive real-time show in which creatives responded to Fb fans to generate the final campaign milestone image.
The beauty of this is that social media allow this to happen not only at the level of Oreo global consumers but at the micro-level too, e.g. the clients of the beauty salon round the corner with its own Facebook page.
Only social media have the power to bring companies, any company, into the minds of targeted consumers so as to hit them with the right message when they are receptive to it. It is compelling and mind-bending stuff but it is also the stuff of current and future marketing. Please share this on your Fbook page!
This post is written by Mark Jenkins and he works at CouponAudit as a writer, where thousands of valid and working online coupons for different stores are available including but not limited to orbitz coupon and various other online stores.