Traditional marketing versus word of mouth

In a survey conducted by AC Nielsen in April 2012, it was found that 92% of the respondents trusted   earned media channels like word of mouth rather than traditional media like TV and print. It was further found that they trust strangers’ reviews about a product/ service rather than that company’s advertisements (Marketingmag, 2012). Word-of-mouth marketing therefore seems to be an appropriate tool to overcome advertising clutter. It is the act of consumers providing information to other consumers.

The growth of buzz marketing and word of mouth

Word of mouth occurs naturally when people talk about a product because they are happy with it and have a natural desire to share their enthusiasm. This is also referred to as organic word of mouth (Plummer et al, 2007). This kind of word of mouth is great for a company but it normally takes a long time to establish and it is completely out of a company’s control. A company can also choose to encourage or accelerate word of mouth. This is called amplified word of mouth (Plummer et al, 2007). An example of amplified word of mouth is the use of buzz marketing which can be defined as a manufactured marketing initiative that is intended to capture people’s attention and create word of mouth. Buzz marketing tries to capture attention of consumers and the media to the point where talking about their brand becomes entertaining, fascinating and newsworthy. Currently the term buzz marketing is frequently used among marketers and seems an appropriate substitute or addition to traditional marketing tools.

TV Advertising is less effective today

The impact of ‘traditional’ advertising seems to be decreasing because of the information overload experienced by consumers. Advertising experts estimate that each consumer may be exposed to more than fifteen hundred advertisements every day. Many consumers therefore, filter out most messages they are exposed to by mass media. They do, however, listen to their friends. Word of mouth marketing seems an appropriate tool to avoid advertising clutter and is therefore receiving more and more attention from marketing managers. Buzz marketing is a tool that can be used to generate and accelerate word of mouth. Over the years many researchers have studied and written about word-of-mouth and word of mouth marketing.


Abhinash Jena

Partner at Project Guru
Abhinash has worked in sales, branding, and marketing functions for GPS companies including MapmyIndia Navigators ( In addition to writing for Knowledge Tank articles, he also writes the expert's advice for Thesis & Dissertations and Power Designs.

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