Did your friend make you buy that?

Operating in the media arena, I have been privileged enough to have been exposed to a lot of ground breaking and innovative media types, in fact we have an abundance of entrepreneurial media owners in South Africa, but just how influential is advertising versus peer to peer recommendations?

Innovation is a good thing because it pushes people to the next level of advertising and complacent traditional media owners that just sit by will see their share of the adspend pie being gobbled up by the more hungry media innovators out there.

As an example, digital OOH is definitely on a fantastic upward trajectory all across the globe and back home this is no exception. The number of proposed digital media types that have crossed my desk over the past few years have exponentially increased.

Briefly, I”ve seen screens in buses, mini bus taxis, Uber cabs, aeroplanes, screens on top of cabs forecourt retail shops, hair salons, washrooms, student res elevators, taxi ranks, train stations, shopping centres, airports, free standing roadside digital screens, screens attached to buildings, screens in pubs, hospital waiting areas, doctor’s rooms, golf locker rooms, on golf club washing “machines”, in restaurants and clubs, in all types of retailer stores, golf carts, they are currently trialling digital street pole ads, and even a proposal to have screens on hand sanitiser dispensers in retailers… and this isn’t even a comprehensive list.

With all of these high-tech media types out there it has surprised me to regularly read about the growth of Influencer Marketing or old fashioned “word-of-mouth”. Influencer Marketing is described by Wikipedia as “a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. Or more simply put peer to peer recommendations”.
Can something as simple as chatting to a mate make me purchase a product?

I gave it some thought and did a quick tally of some of the things that I have bought over the last couple of years without any true advertising exposure and only as a result of friends, family or colleagues convincing me of the benefits of the product:

  • A mate’s car
  • A mate’s small caravan
  • A mate’s mountain bike
  • A Homemark “Flavour Wave” oven
  • A swimming pool salt chlorinator
  • A non-market leading smartphone
  • A tablet by the same manufacturer as my smartphone
  • Car insurance
  • A flat screen TV
  • A laptop

Looking at that quick list, I was quite shocked to see that I have spent a considerable amount of money purely on the persuasive powers of a trusted source!!! And not a single celebrity involved, either. No Usain Bolt to convince me to get Telkom fibre, no Lionel Messi to get me to buy Lays chips, no George Clooney for my coffee… just a trustworthy source whom I know personally.

Marketers may be putting all of their proverbial eggs in one marketing basket and missing a trick by not considering non-celebrity influencers – your average Joe!

Check out these links for more info on how normal people can really influence the spend of their friends and colleagues and where to find these people…

The bottom line is that marketers should be considering all avenues of influence. A good referral in my view doesn’t discount any marketing efforts because a product or service still needs to be bought or trialled before word of mouth takes over and consumers have to be constantly reminded that your brand is available.

A good experience from a consumer will do wonders for spreading the word on any brand, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Now add social media into that mix and instant “virtual word-of-mouse” is created!

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