Mom’s the word in brand influence these days. For example, Procter & Gamble Co. has a marketing brand called Vocalpoint that helps companies develop products that moms care about and want to talk about. And McDonald’s Corp. is recruiting an influential brigade of McMoms who will actually visit BigM farms, suppliers, restaurants and dish out their findings to other mothers via social networks, chat rooms and blogs. That’s smart persuasion marketing. The firm has been flayed for its allegedly fat-rich, children-unfriendly fare in various markets. With mom, and hence trust, on its side, it stands to win over its perhaps most powerful critic and purchaser.
The burger badshah could have roped in celebrities, chefs or white-coated experts as brand endorsers, as is the norm. However, consumers everywhere are getting increasingly jaded with the trumped-up product promises of traditional advertisements. They prefer buying products advocated by friends, peers, communities and, for categories such as food, mom.
Word of mouth is so contagious that it’s called viral marketing. Amplification is the new catchword within this, or magnifying word power through ‘trusted’ sources such as friends, family and mom-fluentials—an online group of moms who influence purchase decisions of other moms.
Just a thought: Big Mama as online consumer correspondent could actually work well here, whether for a McDonald’s or a detergent, given our strong family bonds. Moms have anyway been a popular prop in our commercials, especially for slots like packaged goods, durables and food. Surf’s Lalitaji was a strongly persuasive mother figure on television; and she just could migrate to Internet and mobile platforms. In India, mobile platforms—which are increasingly getting Net-enabled—will be the lead carriers of such brand buzz, followed by the computer. About 13% of Indians have cellphones, and we should touch 500 million subscribers in a few years, according to surveys. In turn, our Internet user base is expected to grow to 70-million-plus by March 2008.
There’s a new ‘trusted’ mom rising in our ad skies, reflecting societal changes. She’s more assertive and climbing the authority ladder within the family and, yes, the Internet. As ad veteran Santosh Desai once said: “A woman now plays her role rather then simply being the role in ads; earlier, her identity was contained in the roles she played, today it is not.”
Here’s to trustworthy brand endorsers like our online mom.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org