www.downloadslide.com even of those who aren’t the brand’s followers on Twitter. Finally, companies like Sponsored Tweets and Ad.ly are connecting brands with influential tweeters. These tweeters, often celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Kim Kardashian who have millions of followers, get paid for tweeting about specific brands, often at the rate of $1000 or more per tweet. As with regular blogs, full disclosure is an important facet of this model. 64 • Customer reviews and review functionality on a website can be a critical marketing tool. Amazon and others allow consumers to easily post reviews of products on their site. Given the power of WOM, this online version of WOM is a powerful decision influencer. For example, restaurant revenues have been found to increase between 5 and 9 percent if they increase their ranking on Yelp by one star. However, there are at least two factors that marketers must be concerned with regarding online reviews. First, since existing reviews are “public information,” they tend to “sway” future reviews in that direction. So, if reviews trend down, that likely feeds more downward bias than if reviews were done independent of knowledge of prior reviews. This is a challenge for both marketers and consumers. Marketers can find themselves in a battle against a misguided trend, and consumers likely are not getting the best, most accurate advice. A second concern is fake reviews, where it is estimated that one in seven reviews is fake. Astrosurfing is the practice whereby companies buy positive reviews of themselves and negative reviews for their competitors. Companies can use algorithms to distinguish genuine and fake reviews and then take legal action. The “buying” of fake reviews by one company for another is akin to false advertising. Samsung was recently fined for hiring people to criticize HTC (a competitor) products. 65 Clearly marketers are learning how to leverage the WOM potential of the Internet. It will be interesting to see what the future brings! Critical Thinking Questions 1. What other Internet alternatives exist for interpersonal communication? 2. Do you trust online sources to provide accurate information? What can marketers do to increase consumer trust in online sources? 3. What do you think are typical characteristics of those who are heavy bloggers? Categories of Innovations Try to recall new products that you have encountered in the past two or three years. As you reflect on these, it may occur to you that there are degrees of innovation. For example, computer tablets such as Apple’s iPad are more of an innovation than is a new fat-free snack. The changes required in one’s behavior, including attitudes and beliefs, or lifestyle if a person adopts the new product or service determine the degree of innovation, not the technical or functional changes in the product. We can place any new product somewhere on a continuum ranging from no change to radical change, depending on the target market’s perception of the item. This continuum is often divided into three categories or types of innovations. Continuous Innovation Adoption of this type of innovation requires relatively minor changes in behavior or changes in behaviors that are unimportant to the consumer. 239
www.downloadslide.com 240 Part Two External Influences ILLUSTRATION 7-7 Crest Vivid White Night toothpaste would be considered a continuous innovation by most. Examples include Crest Vivid White Night toothpaste, Wheaties Energy Crunch cereal, and Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets. Note that some continuous innovations require complex technological breakthroughs. However, their use requires little change in the owner’s behavior or attitude. Crest Vivid White Night Striped toothpaste shown in Illustration 7–7 is another example of a continuous innovation. Dynamically Continuous Innovation Adoption of this type of innovation requires a moderate change in an important behavior or a major change in a behavior of low or moderate importance to the individual. Examples include digital cameras, personal navigators, mobile apps, and Bella and Birch textured paints that are applied like wallpaper but without glue, using a special applicator. The Shout Color Catcher ad in Illustration 7–8 is a good example of a product that is a dynamically continuous innovation for most consumer groups. ILLUSTRATION 7-8 Using Shout Color Catcher would require a major change in an area of moderate importance for most individuals. For these individuals, it would be a dynamically continuous innovation.