Connecting with Consumers: Marketing for New Marketplace Realities

Marianna Sigala (Department of Business Administration, University of the Aegean, Chios Island, Greece)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 13 September 2011




Sigala, M. (2011), "Connecting with Consumers: Marketing for New Marketplace Realities", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 6, pp. 462-463.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Web 2.0 advances are empowering consumers by changing the way people search, read, write, share, and distribute information. This has tremendous implications on the consumer purchase behaviour and the features of the marketplace. The aim of this book is to discuss these developments and analyse their implications for the marketing profession by investigating the new tools that enable marketers to respond to these new marketplaces realities.

The major tenet of the book is that collaboration with consumers is going to be the next big thing. Instead of searching for ways to regain control over the consumers, firms need to connect with consumers and actively engage them into their marketing processes. To that end, the book re‐addresses and updates theories and models of traditional marketing that consider the active role of consumers in Web 2.0. Overall, the book provides a fresh approach to several bottom‐up, grassroots consumer‐to‐consumer (C2C) approaches to marketing and presents several new marketing strategies and tactics regarding issues such as social media marketing; e‐word of mouth, social media metrics, customer engagement and viral marketing. The book is also enriched with numerous short and extensive applied examples that better illustrate the practical applications and implications of these new marketing strategies. All book chapters are well written and structured by starting with their learning objectives and finishing with major lessons learnt and additional references.

The book chapters are organised into two parts. The first part consists of four chapters that analyse the rising power of consumers and their active role in several marketing processes. The second part includes five chapters that analyse the major marketing approaches aiming to enable firms to connect and collaborate with the empowered consumers.

The first chapter, titled “Marketing in evolution,” revisits the seven marketing Ps (including people, physical evidence, and processes) and explores their evolution due to the new technology‐empowered generation of consumers. The chapter also explains the new rules and forces that govern the marketing landscape. The second chapter, “The twenty‐first century consumer landscape: new realities,” continues the discussion about the new marketplace by analysing in more depth the opportunities and threats that have been created by the following three new realities: media and audience fragmentation; targeted customers tuning out formal marketing efforts; and consumer connectedness. The third chapter is titled “Targeting consumers in the era of Web 2.0,” and it further elaborates on the realities of the new marketing landscape by shifting the focus onto the new consumers themselves. After reviewing the new tools of Web 2.0 and their impact on consumer behaviour and communication, this chapter explores the following specific issues related to consumer targeting: the behaviour of especially influential (such as teens) and emerging (such as seniors and minorities) segments; the identification and process of opinion leadership; brand communities; and consumer relationships with brands.

Chapter Four, “Word‐of‐mouth influence,” focuses on the concept of word‐of‐mouth (WOM), which is mushrooming online due to the massive production and dissemination of consumer‐generated‐content (UGC). The chapter explores the following important issues: the nature and consumer influence of WOM; the factors and motivators of WOM production and dissemination; and the potential effects of WOM. The chapter concludes with a section scrutinizing some widespread misconceptions related to WOM (such as the dissatisfaction driver of WOM), while Chapter Five continues the discussion about WOM by giving emphasis to measurement and research issues.

Chapter Five is titled “Word of mouth and social media research and measurement,” and it is the first chapter of the second part of the book, which in turn places emphasis on marketing strategies and tactics. In this vein, Chapter Five considers some of the methodologies borrowed from a diverse array of disciplines that can be used for measuring WOM and UGC. Specifically, the chapter examines methods that can track and measure the impact of WOM and C2C as well as some applications of WOM research (e.g. for identifying influential and opinion leaders, for evaluating the merit of the widely used net promoter score (NPS), and for evaluating the utility of text mining). The chapter not only presents these methods, but it also analyses their limitations and strengths as well as the ways in which they can be applied and integrated as aspects of fledgling or ongoing marketing campaigns.

Chapter Six, titled “Listening to and engaging consumers,” investigates methods by which marketers can get connected and engage with current and potential customers, with social media, and with collaborative partners. The chapter also investigates how marketers can get in on consumer conversations and leverage them for corporate profits while maintaining a loyalty to the basic tenets of the marketing concept. The chapter explains the netiquette and the ethical issues that marketers should also respect and follow when communicating in the blogosphere, social networks, and brand communities. The chapter concludes with three extensive case studies showing how the marketing staff of three multinational companies have successfully achieved all these.

The next two chapters survey the various means by which businesses can get closer to their target audiences through efforts intended to listen to and actively engage with consumers. In other words, these chapters analyse methods that can be used to leverage participation to online dialogues with consumers once the consumer conversation has been joined. Chapter Seven, “Connected marketing I: word‐of‐mouth marketing techniques,” focuses on the means available to marketers for generating word‐of‐mouth and marketing buzz, including the creation of brand advocates, product seeding, and brand ambassador/community programmes. Chapter Eight, “Connected marketing II: viral and live buzz marketing techniques,” continues this discussion on connected marketing approaches by considering and analysing tactics related to viral campaigns and guerrilla, stealth, and live buzz marketing. These exogenous approaches typically are intended to generate buzz rather than advocacy, to attract the consumer attention with content that is likely to arouse situational involvement as opposed to enduring involvement, and to create an effect that is more emotional and experiential in orientation than suggestive of need satisfaction. In other words, in comparison to the approaches discussed in Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight focuses on situationally involving techniques that motivate people to talk about something they experience in their daily lives, which in one way or another incorporates a product, service and/or brand.

The book concludes with a final chapter titled “Synthesis and a look to the future,” which summarises the major lessons learnt in this book for designing and implementing connected marketing strategies.

Overall, this is an easy‐to‐read book that provides a rich set of both theoretical background and industry evidence of the connected marketing approaches that firms have to develop for addressing the new challenges introduced by the Web 2.0 advances. The book nicely integrates and updates several theoretical concepts and models with practical evidence for showing how to design, implement and measure connected marketing strategies. Overall, the book provides a good theoretical and practical background that highlights the organizational and cultural changes required to the marketing profession. In short, the book shows that marketers should no longer consider consumers as buyers to be targeted, but as co‐marketers with whom they need to connect, collaborate and engage with. The book constitutes a useful reading for researchers‐academics, high level students, and marketing professionals.

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