When the consumer is exposed to a surfeit of choices, brands and their advertising campaigns, what really helps making up his mind is valued opinions expressed directly to them. This is not only simple but also free thus, making word of mouth ‘The most effective and inexpensive’ tool of marketing.

A majority of buying decisions are influenced by word of mouth. This is high time when word of mouth is taken as an important medium in communication mix. Word of mouth has much greater influence when the customers are buying for the first time or when the product is very expensive. These two factors lead to people seeking more views of their friends and of the opinion leaders around them.

With the digital revolution its influence has to grow. Digitalization has empowered word of mouth by enhancing its reach from one-on-one communication to a one-to-many. Social networks are the media through which the reviews and opinions are being disseminated to the world these days.  Some customers can even go the extent of creating Web sites or blogs to praise or punish brands.

Today we find that the word of mouth marketing is not used to its full potential by leading companies.  Only a few companies invest in generating intentional word of mouth, firstly because the effects of word of mouth are difficult to measure and secondly many marketers are unsure if they can successfully create a buzz which can transform into successful campaigns.

There are many ways in which word of mouth starts as a buzz. It most commonly starts when the customer’s has a direct experience   of the product or service. The buzz initiates when the experience does not meet the expectation. It is very rarely that people propagate about products or service when their experience matches expectation. If the expectation is not met, a dissatisfied customer can contribute massively to negative word of mouth hurting the brand sentiments.

A buzz can also start when the customer is exposed to traditional marketing campaigns. The buzz can be about the product or the campaign itself. Use of celebrity endorsers is a common method companies adopt to start a positive buzz, especially during product launches

Marketers need to consider both the direct and the pass-on effects of word of mouth when determining the message and media mix that maximizes the return on their investments

There is clearly an art to effective word-of-mouth campaigning. Yet the science behind word-of-mouth helps reveal how to hone and deploy that art. Word of mouth has a huge potential to become a mainstream marketing campaign and must be utilized effectively.

~ Preetdeep Kaur

MBA Batch of 2012

DoMS IIT Madras


Indian R(et)ailways

In a fervent mood to get back home, my last-minute plan could only acco

mmodate an Ac-2 tier ticket for an ‘only’ 30hours journey. Besides the two movies and a book, what kept me amused was the uninterrupted stream of hawkers. And mind you, it’s not merely about the red-attired pantry-car staff trying to sell cold samosas yelling ”garam samose”; neither about the jhalmuri-wala you patiently wait for. This blog is about the myriad moving, rather, rolling marketplace called Railways.

Since my childhood, I have been tempted to trains- there has always been something more to its inherent charisma of drawing naive eyeballs. It represented a cadre of illegal offerings that my sane and hygiene-conscious parents would never succumb to and I would never tire demanding (in vain undoubtedly): the cholera-endowed (so vouched many ‘wise’ people around me) aam-panna, the unhygienic yet seductively alluring kulfi (which was always made of undrinkable water); the cheap and multi-coloured katthi-meethi lozenge; the list goes on and on. A little independence and just enough pocket-money opened the gates to this heaven and now in reminiscence I realize ”aspiration needn’t necessarily arise out of positive publicity” or ”aspirational brands could well be unbranded”.

Childhood fantasy ride

Even years later, a rail journey is equally entertaining and (if you pause to notice,) illuminating even today! National and regional sentiments run parallelly as two railway tracks- each city brings its own share of variety to the shaking table. 😉

At each state border occurs a transition to the local taste. Come Bihar-Bengal border and enters peppy Jhalmuri, cross Tamil-Andhra border and welcome the cashew-vendors. No rocket science in this, right? Then why am I reinventing the wheel?

Because this 365-day circus called Indian Railways depict the organized modus operandi of the so-called Unorganized Retail. Be it local or express train, some form of retail in all possible permutation and combination of product and communication mix is omnipresent. Each station has its fleet of hawkers: the chaiwalas, the samosa and puri vendors; and amazing is the co-ordination among them: each of them operate in mutually agreed-upon zones and do not tread into each other’s territory. (I have so often seen them changing compartments to avoid any sort of tussle.) Live and let live, rather sell and let sell is their mantra. Awesome is the synchronization they have with the ever-delayed schedules of Indian Railways. Even at 2am, you could be woken up by a “chai chai” somewhere! How many times did you actually find a station devoid of hawkers??

Strange is the game and equally strange are its rules. KYC doesn’t play too important a role here. Rather focus is on generalizing the requirements of this diverse population and matching the resources at hand. No customization yet the products sell, from tea to tooth-brushing daatun, from coffee to cold-drinks, from books to bindi, from pens to puri; the list continues! I believe this has happened with many of us: we boarded a local train empty-handed and ended up buying ‘three bagsful’ of something or the other:

ü  ‘one for my master’: here master being the regular household requirements

ü  ‘One for my dame’: the churis, bindis, and similar paisa-wasool stuff that earns the lion’s share in ladies compartment in particular 😉

ü  ‘And one for the little boy who lives down the lane’: it comprises all the forbidden childhood temptations that I have mentioned earlier that satisfies the child in me, you or every adult.

Well……….. to come back to my story past all the gyan, I must tell 30 hours, (rather 33 hours courtesy Railway Standard Time 😉 ) did fly in a jiffy for you can never be alone or get bored in a train. It’s the only place where you have uninterrupted entertainment and company (whether you like it or not) and in case you have no better work you can also make some business sense out of it as I did.

~Moupiya Niyogi

Batch of 2012

DoMS IIT Madras