P&G Unit Debunks 'Social' Influence, Finds Offline Overwhelmingly Dominates Brand Conversations

When it comes to word-of-mouth recommendations for brands, it appears that good, old-fashioned in-person and on-the-phone conversations still rule the day -- at least according to research conducted by Tremor and the Keller Fay Group.

Tremor, the Procter & Gamble marketing unit that focuses on the so-called "influencer" segment of the consumer base, and word-of-mouth agency Keller Fay unveiled research this week that shows that over 90% of conversations about brands occur in person or on the phone.

The results were first disclosed in an article penned by Tremor CEO Chris Laird for Forbes that posted on the publication’s Web site Nov. 15. Laird and Brad Fay elaborated on the study’s findings at the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association's Conference in Las Vegas the following day.

In the Forbes article, Laird reported that Keller Fay recruited 32,000 participants to keep daily diaries about the conversations they had about brands over of a 12-month period. During that time those respondents had 10 times as many offline conversations about brands as online chats.



Another key finding from the research was that 60% of the participants reported a “high likelihood” to make a purchase based on a face-to-face conversation. The results also showed that 67% of offline conversations are mostly positive.

Laird wrote that the results showed the importance of having a “balanced” approach to word-of-mouth marketing, despite all the attention and focus on digital media and tactics.

"There is no ‘mouth’ involved when you post or tweet. Digital is important but not sufficient, and brands must strive for that well-rounded plan," Laird wrote, where digital is used to “drive real world conversations and vice versa.”

The marketer's task would probably be easier if brands were discussed more often online than off, just given the online tracking and response capabilities that the industry has today, Laird suggested. “It’s hard work to systemically drive offline conversations about your brand,” Laird wrote in the Forbes piece. “It’s funny that the term “word-of-mouth” can sound quaint and old-fashioned as today’s perception is that consumer engagement happens more digitally than at the water cooler.”

2 comments about "P&G Unit Debunks 'Social' Influence, Finds Offline Overwhelmingly Dominates Brand Conversations".
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  1. Carl Langrock from Allscope Media, November 18, 2011 at 9:15 a.m.

    Interesting. Is one implication that marketers should blend offline promotional activity to generate buzz, too, even though the direct effect of that spending is not as readily measurable. Would love to hear other thoughts on this topic and how people support their offline promotional spend.

  2. Jesus Grana from Independent, November 18, 2011 at 5:24 p.m.

    I would love to learn more about this research - particularly if there were differences found between interactions in Facebook and twitter versus blog commentary and forums (which tend to be more personal and still represent a large, sometimes largest, percentage of where category and brand discussions are taking place)

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