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Vol.1, No.1. March 2013

ISSN 2320-9925


T. Umamaheswara Rao & V.N.Sailaja


Geographic and political boundaries have always been a source of challenge for marketers trying to reach a diverse and dispersed target market. The marketers have to find innovative ways and means to reach the mind of customers. As the marketing guru, Philip Kotler quoted, “Companies should think about the millennium as a golden opportunity to gain mind share and heart share.” There is no rule of thumb to gain the heart and mind share- the marketers need to think out of the box for developing innovative products. Discovering new channels for distributing demand exploring the complete 360 degrees of communication roots. Hence, the need of the hour is to catch the customers by every means and to retain them. The companies are thus making their presence felt online along with offline presence. One of the approaches they found suitable to reach large number of customers with less time and low cost is viral marketing.


There was a tremendous shift from agricultural economy to industrial economy in the era from fifties to late sixties. Early seventies to late eighties has been marked as the age of growing professionalism and led to the birth of many iconic Indian brands in the market place. The post liberalisation phase in India has gone through plenty of changes in the market place. This phase has not only marked the massive inflow of brands from various countries from all over the globe but has also observed the changing trends in the consumer’s behaviour. All these transitions made a shift from traditional to holistic marketing. The customers of this era are educated more due to technological advancements, media revolution, quality orientation, fierce competition etc. Present day customers have matured from those seeking satisfaction to those who want to be delighted by their marketers. There is a radical transformation in the products and brands desired by the customers, the way of approaching and consuming them. The Indian society has marched a long way from being a conservative and under privileged population to a confident and revolutionised one. Hence the latest socio- cultural trends pose both opportunities and challenges to the marketers .The following are some of the socio cultural trends which influence marketing activities.

Growth in workforce

Increased pester power of kids

Nuclear families and individual households

Emergence of teenage workforce

Rise of rebellious youth

Mobile communities

The above said factors resulted in the emergence of various new segments of customers and made it a must for the companies to shift their resources from traditional to novel one. The marketers need to realise the fact that the key to sustain them in the fierce competition is to bring innovations in their product designs, distribution channels and the marketing communication tools used by them. The world has become a digital with internet revolution and has made it necessary for the marketers to discover innovative ways of reaching and presenting their products to consumers. The different innovative marketing practices followed by marketers are-

innovative marketing practices followed by marketers are- ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management Sciences Research 1
innovative marketing practices followed by marketers are- ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management Sciences Research 1
innovative marketing practices followed by marketers are- ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management Sciences Research 1


Vol.1, No.1. March 2013

ISSN 2320-9925

Among all these, viral marketing is a buzz word, which was coined by Tim Draper, a Harward business school graduate using extensively to describe the e- mails that added advertising of products. It is natural for human beings to share their experiences and interesting information about the brands used by them with their friends, family members and colleagues. Hence the present marketers are using this aspect of human behaviour to propagate the information about their brands through online e-mail forward which is known is viral marketing.

online e-mail forward which is known is viral marketing. It is the online marketing done through

It is the online marketing done through social networking sites. It is done by displaying the products/ services on social networking sites. Nowadays everyone is aware of the social networking sites and uses them regularly such as twitter, face book, orkut etc. Hence promoting brands on these popular sites accelerates the rate of brand awareness. It increases the visibility of the products and more visibility leads to more visitors, which in turn increases the number of consumers. Today brand promotion through social networking sites has become a trend followed by newcomers as well as masters of trade. Thus viral marketing is no more a new online marketing technique.

Concept Behind Viral Marketing

The concept of viral marketing is by no means new. Word of mouth marketing has been the forefather of viral marketing around for ages. Prior to the advent of the internet, most of the advertisers benefited through the word of mouth marketing.

advertisers benefited through the word of mouth marketing. But the effect of word of mouth was

But the effect of word of mouth was confined to limited geographic areas due to lack of widespread social networks. It was limited by the ability of the influencer to speak to another customer. The advent of the internet radically changed the concept of word of mouth. Because word of mouth marketing could take weeks or months to reach a thousand people, where as viral marketing can reach hundreds of thousands or millions in a matter of days or hours. The spread of effective viral marketing campaign is akin to an epidemic outbreak of a virus, limited only by potency and relevance of the marketing message.

only by potency and relevance of the marketing message. ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management Sciences
only by potency and relevance of the marketing message. ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management Sciences


Vol.1, No.1. March 2013

ISSN 2320-9925

Types of Viral Marketing

1. Interactive games or puzzles: On the web ‘word’ spreads faster than ‘fire’. If the contact is good and interesting, its popularity grows rapidly. Web technology enables rapid spread, after all what consumer had to do is click on ‘forward’ and then add ten addresses of their close friends and finally click ‘send’ and it’s done . A classic example of this is Bluffmaster.com. Roham Sippy created ‘Bluff master’ viral campaign in the form of an attractive game to promote Hindi movie. The user of internet could play on the slot machine that appears on the screen and on pulling the lever thrice they were informed they had won Rs. 2, 00,000/- later user will receive e- mail informing that this was a bluff. If they wanted to find who had bluffed them they could follow the link that will take then to ‘bluff master’ moving web page. If the users want to bluff their friends, they can forward the game to them. The film maker managed to bluff a lakh people in a short time.

2.Discounts and offers information through e- mails (bribes): Discounts and offer information through web technology is called ‘bribes ‘because companies should leverage web technology to offer interesting games, puzzles or attractive graphics to hold the consumers. The classic example of discounts and offers was in 2000, Pepsi opted to partner with leading portal yahoo to offer ‘Pepsi stuff points’. The points earned by consumers were printed as ‘code’ on to Pepsi and Mountain Dew bottle they purchased. Customers had to log on to ‘Pepsi stuff. Com’ site, registered and typed in that code to find out how many points they got. The points could be redeemed for goods in the usual way or else used to get discount on a range of goods that could be purchased at yahoo shopping.

Discounts and offers e- mails can also be used to provoke consumer to consumer marketing among target audience. A personal care marketing company send e- mail to a consumer informing that if he purchases products worth Rs.200/- and promote products worth Rs. 750/- through e- mail or any other means to his friends circle, he will be eligible for a prize or free products. This can be seen in Amway company worldwide successful C to C promotional strategy.

3.Viral ‘E- Mail’ marketing campaign: ‘Hotmail’ is the classic example of successful viral e – mail campaign which involved less marketing expenditure and had a growth of user base from zero to 12 million in just one and half year. Its total marketing expenditure was less than Rs. 50000. The founders of Hotmail, Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith had the idea for Hotmail, after struggling to access their conventional e-mail service freely to their users and recoup revenue by offering advertising space on the pages. It was one of the first internet businesses to become extremely successful utilising viral marketing techniques by inserting the tagline “Get your free e mail at hotmail” at the bottom of every e- mail sent out by users. Every user became a sales agent for the service and the sales network instantly spanned the globe. The corporate also started using the e- mail service to solve the inter departmental and inter organization problems. Hot mail was launched on July 4, 1996, with in a one month it acquired 100000 subscribers, in less than six months it had crossed million marks.

Criteria for making it Viral

To make viral marketing a successful one, the following criteria must be met i.e., giving the right message to the right messengers in the right event.

Messenger: To ensure the transformation of right message into a viral one, three types of messengers are required: market mavens, social hubs and sales people. Markets mavens are individuals usually the first persons to get exposed to the message and transmit it to their immediate social network. Social hubs are the people with large number of social connections. They know hundreds of hundreds of different people and have the ability to serve as bridges between different subcultures. Sales people might be needed who receive the message from the market mavens, amplify it by making it more relevant and then transmit it to the social hub for further distributions.

Message: To make viral marketing work, the messages should be prepared in such a way to be memorable and interesting to pass on to others.

Event: This is very crucial in the rise of viral marketing .The timing and context of the campaign launch must be right.

timing and context of the campaign launch must be right. ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management
timing and context of the campaign launch must be right. ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management


Vol.1, No.1. March 2013

ISSN 2320-9925

User consideration: When designing a campaign, marketers should evaluate how people communicate the message to others. The easier a campaign can spread, the more successful it can ultimately be.

Campaign seeding: It is a key component of a viral campaign. Seeding in the act of planting the original campaign with the initial group, who will then continuously spread the message to others. Hence, it is important for marketers to determine where to seed and whom to seed.

Ability to Scale: To reach the goals of explosive reach and participating viral marketing, marketers should be prepared to meet the needs of participants in the event which they are conducting. They should consider the server space, band width, support staff etc. well in advance of campaign launch.

Tools: On the internet, the marketing message spreads in many ways; via e- mail, chat rooms, bulletin boards, gift or “wish list” registers and web pages. Marketers must take care of all these tools to be quick, reliable and to use me.

Motivation: The product or service must motivate people to spread the word. There must be an incentive and these could be in the form of free goods, monetary incentives, or fun or provocative stimuli etc.

Audience Psychology: At its core viral marketing relies on human psychology and the power of social networks. Hence marketers, who want to market their products, virally must have a good sense of their audience, how they use technology and how they communicate with each other. Viral marketer needs to consider the audience for the product and how they would normally hear and transmit information about the product. And Companies using viral marketing practices should make sure that their customers are on-line and are using software and hardware necessary to receive and to pass along the marketing message.


It enables business to remain confident within the competitive business world.

Enables business actions to reach out to a global audience, by effectively putting the internet connectivity to play.

It ripples on to peer-to peer recommendation of the product or service.

Enables the business to generate revenue from local interest in the venture.

Allows the marketers to reach the audience effectively.

It is very convenient to small marketers who have a very limited marketing budget , because any campaign on e-mail is passed on beyond its original contact list.

It is easy for the people to just click the mouse and forward an e-mail at no extra cost but the viral content of the campaign should be relatively high.

Viral marketing has some drawbacks which need to be taken care of

The message may be diluted as the marketers let the others be the spokesperson of the original members. Hence the identity of the brand may be lost. Another problem in the risk of linkage with negative sites or people. This may hamper the company as well as the brand image and, inturn may lead to a negative word of mouth. Spamming every individual on the lists is violating the privacy of the registered user. For this, they can be even used. Some persons referred to companies by friends do not appreciate company’s keeping their personal information. Managing the web traffic is also another problem. On the web, the growth and reactions are both instantaneous as it is so easy to click ‘forward’ and ‘send’ to many addresses.

There will be number of examples for viral marketing in India.

BMW Hire Ticker in 2001, BMW produce an eight short film which is also highly budgeted that stars some of Hollywood Tops actors likes Madonna, Clive Owen, and Don Cheadle. These films were directed by top directors Guy Richie and David Fincher. The concept basically is about the high endurance and durability of the BMW cars showing the cars in an action packed films. The short film gathered around 11 million views from you tube and provided a 12% sales growth to the company

Philips pushed the envelope of decency with their Shave Everywheresite that promoted Body groom, a new product by Philips. The campaign generated millions of views and visits to the

The campaign generated millions of views and visits to the ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management
The campaign generated millions of views and visits to the ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management


Vol.1, No.1. March 2013

ISSN 2320-9925

Shave Everywhere site and has given the electronics company an unexpectedly “edgy” persona. The Tell a Friend” feature on the bottom right hand corner of the site was particularly useful in helping the campaign make the Internet rounds.

Cadbury’s wildly popular “Gorilla” campaign is solid evidence that clever advertising can create short memories. At the start of 2007, Cadbury was in the midst of a PR nightmare after a major Salmonella outbreak that occurred at one of Cadbury’s factories. Then, in 2007, Cadbury launched its “Gorilla” campaign to reignite interest in the company. The ad was a huge success on broadcast television and instantly made its way to the web. After its first week on YouTube, the clip received over 500,000 views. By the end of 2007, the clip had been viewed over 6 million times online. Approximately 70 Face book groups have been created celebrating the campaign, as well as a host of parodies and spin-offs. The campaign’s viral presence helped to increase sales around the world from Britain, to South Africa, to Australia and New Zealand.

Ray-Ban created a viral stir with the release of a string of YouTube-bait videos in 2007. The videos (there have been 17 released since 2007) were released on their branded YouTube channel promoting their Never Hidecampaign. The channel presently has over 3,100 subscribers and three of the videos have generated over 1 million views. The most popular Never Hide clip to date, “Guy Catches Glasses with Face,” has attracted over 4.3 million views and continues to grow in popularity. Since the debut of the online ads, sales of Ray-Ban Wayfarers have skyrocketed.

Barack Obama’s presidential win had about as much to do with social media and viral marketing skills as it did with his Harvard Law degree or stance on an array of political issues. Obama got the youth to vote, a task many thought impossible. He accomplished this by strategically tapping into nearly every major social media outlet. At the time of Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, the President had 13 million people on his email list, 3 million online donors, 5 million friends on more than 15 different social networking sites including 3 million friends on Face book, 8.5 million monthly visitors to MyBarackObama.com, nearly 2,000 official YouTube videos (with more than 80 million views and 135,000 subscribers), and more than 3 million people signed up for his text messaging program. Now, that is how he won an election.

Honda produced the first ever live commercial on British television. The three-minute commercial showed 19 skydivers jumping out of two planes more than 14,000 feet above the ground. The skydivers linked up to spell H-O-N-D-A in the sky. The British ad was a traditional television ad in Europe, but became a YouTube hit in the United States, generating over 400,000 views. Though the effectiveness of this commercial has been debated, it must be noted that the ‘Accordbecame the bestselling vehicle in America in April 2009 for the first time in its history.

Vodafone’s ad campaigns featuring the Zoozoo creatures have become an international sensation. Developed in India, the playful commercials have made their way to the internet and become viral hits. The campaign, “Make the Most of Now,” has become truly global as a result. The videos have collected millions of online views worldwide and firmly positioned the Zoozoo creatures as loveable global icons.

Kolaveri song is officially released on 18 th November. Then it spread like a fire through social networking sites irrespective of age, sex and language. Within one week of release, it received 1.3

Million views on YouTube, more than one Million shares on face book. This is the first Tamil song to be premiered on MTV India. Why this kolaveri di means why you are so angry with me. These are the

words of a boy whose love has been rejected by the girl

film director added this song into her movie to show the heart break of the boy .This soup song has turned an anthem for future managers in the country. All IIM’s has accepted this song as the best examples of viral marketing. The institutes have also made videos of the entire class singing to Kolaveri Di and posted them on networking sites. The song has created much craze among children and youngsters. It is blowing over the lips of all college girls and boys .Boys are using this song to please their girlfriends .It is also used to fight against all unfair activities. The reasons behind the success of this song are-

whom he loves so much from the heart. The

Magic of lyrics.

he loves so much from the heart. The  Magic of lyrics. ALIG Journal of Commerce
he loves so much from the heart. The  Magic of lyrics. ALIG Journal of Commerce


Vol.1, No.1. March 2013

ISSN 2320-9925

Video footage

Refreshing sound

Easy song for bathroom singers

Samsung’s clip of LED-illuminated sheet continues to generate interest throughout the Internet. The clip has attracted nearly 8.5 million views on YouTube and continues to be the topic of discussion on blogs across the web. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk 2007 Gorilla advertising campaign was heavily popularised on YouTube and face book

Coke has been using viral marketing for a long time. Now the ‘Wakaw’ campaign for vanilla coke and ‘Jeeto India Jeeto’ are the examples for that. Clinic All Clear has also used this tool for the ‘Make your own move’ campaign. During the expansion of credit cards, City bank has introduced “Referral program-member bring member”. This was a very successful program. The other companies like Amway, Hindustan lever, Tupperware, also implemented such concept. In India a large portion of sales comes from viral marketing (knowingly or unknowingly). For example if a person buys an IFB washing machine then immediately he tends to inform the feature of the same to his colleagues ,neighbours, friends and relatives etc. This influences the buying decision of others and sales of IFB washing machine go up without formal implementation of the concept of viral marketing.


Viral marketing is growing larger and gaining popularity by the day. It is becoming more accepted, because people are getting to be more familiar with this form of marketing. It is a powerful way to enlist customers in a marketing strategy, and when applied correctly, can boost sales for the right product into the stratosphere and speed the transition from the stage of early adoption to widespread use. Viral marketing can deliver positive ROI when properly executed in the strategic plan of the firm. Nonetheless, viral marketing is definitely a marketing tool of the future going by its advantages of being fast, inexpensive and easy. But one has to find the right balance and avoid excessive usage. Implementation and control as well as quick response assume great importance in viral marketing- the effort has to be implemented in the right manner and controlled well in order to achieve the best results.


Innovative marketing practices for evolving consumers, Dr. Vaishali Agarwal, Indian journal of marketing, August 2010

Innovative marketing practices suitying the current social behaviour of Indian customers, B.V.H. kameswara Sastry and Dr. D.V. Chandra sekhar, Indian journal of marketing, September,


E- marketing Methods and Applications- for successful marketing in Global marketing scenario, C. Senthil Nathan, Indian journal of marketing, January, 2009

Fast, Trusted and efficient, Honey, Marketing mastermind, Sept, 2009.

Changing scenario in marketing, the place of Internet. Venkatesh, Marketing Mastermind, June 2008

of Internet. Venkatesh, Marketing Mastermind, June 2008 ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management Sciences Research 6
of Internet. Venkatesh, Marketing Mastermind, June 2008 ALIG Journal of Commerce and Management Sciences Research 6