Thursday, August 16, 2007

Direct versus Word-of-Mouth Marketing: An Example from my Morning Commute

After getting off the bus this morning at 39th and Main, I entered the CVS located conveniently on that corner. Once through those swishy, automatic glass doors, the constructed environment around me, and all of the items in it, surrounded me with their pulsating desire to inspire purchases. It's like walking into a kindergarten classroom dressed in a Snoopy suit.* But, since I never wear a Snoopy suit, I was able to make my way through the shop and towards the drink coolers along the right** side.^

With the heat and how much I've been out in it recently, I wanted some water. Perusing all of my choices in the water department, I decided on fruit punch Vitamin Water - the one labeled "revive" with the text "If you woke up tired, you probably..." printed beneath it. That was all I needed to make my decision. Well, that and everything I've heard about bottled water in the past few months^^ including my friend's testimonial about the invigorating effects of drinking vitamin water. With that thought in my mind, not even the super-large on-sale Gatorade could change decision (though normally, it would).

At the register, the cashier prompted me for my CVS Extra Care card, which resulted in my receiving a coupon with my receipt (accompanied by a silly bleeping noise from the register). The cashier noted the coupon as she handed me my receipt, and I read it as I walked out, finding it was for $1 off a CVS picture CD. I've been visiting this CVS every morning off-and-on the past few months because it is conveniently on the way. The Extra Care card has been tracking this and due to some algorithm or another (I assume), the system produced a coupon tailored to deepen my "brand experience" or relationship with CVS by having me rely on them for more than just whatever I happen to need on a certain day. And it's a great way to do it, especially since I have about 8 rolls of film I need to develop eventually. But, unluckily for CVS, I don't know when I'll be moving except for soon, and I don't want to commit to a place that might later be inconvenient for me.

So, the deconstructed short version of that is:
  • word-of-mouth marketing
    • produced expectations and trust for a brand (Vitamin Water) that influenced my purchasing decision more highly than my own usual standards (getting more of what I know I like for less) AND it
    • influenced me so heavily that I forgot everything else I knew about vitamin water (including their current ad series); while
  • direct marketing failed to entice me to further commitment because of my current life circumstances.

Just goes to show that even the best laid plans can fail sometimes, because, face it, neither the BtoC marketing of CVS or Vitamin Water worked on me. And that having a genuinely impressive product is still the best way to make a sale.


*I.e. getting mobbed by a pack of small, screaming things

**I originally typed "left side" here, but then realized it was just my hand-dominance-dyslexia striking again. It's confusing being a lefty sometimes.

^This kind of odd story-telling is a result of my current reading choice: Trout Fishing in America

^^What I've learned about bottled water in the past few months: it's bad for the environment; it deprives certain people from accessing their natural water sources; the bottled are a hazard because they are non-recyclable for the most part and plastic never deteriorates so it is polluting the ocean and streams; Aquafina is just tap water, etc.


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Joe P. said...

Fear not. The data that CVS collects on you will follow you to any location you switch to. Which is why I generally avoid those store cards. They are scary.

May said...

True, but I still don't wanna commit to a single location by leaving something of mine there... that's all I'm saying.