Avalanche Marketing – Groupthink in Action

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What is common among Avatar, iPad, and Justin Bieber… and sets them apart from the other crowd too? They all come in good packages! Well, yes. But so did many others as for as content is concerned. What sets them apart is everyone you know “seems” to like them, and the fact that you know it.

There was a time when a suburban population would not know what people in the metro thought about a particular movie during its first weekend. The word of mouth did travel but slowly. Plethora has been written on promotions, buzz marketing, product quality over time on how companies succeeded (or not) in that era.

Times have since changed drastically. The opening weekend is “the” decider of a film’s success. Reception to a product like iPad from Apple is decidedly positive even before the release announcement reaches the last paragraph. Justin just doesn’t seem to be taking any break from trending list on Twitter.

The “hype” has become a big game-changer. And the one sole factor behind all this is the groupthink phenomenon, and in the highly interconnected world today it has become a very powerful marketing tool.

Humans have an inherent tendency, in general, to conform and to fit-in. This is well-engrained in our mind-sets from the time we set out foot in school, & in society. The most neutral reaction (that originated from isolated processing within one’s brain) to a product is only possible in the consumption of the product in absolute confinement. Most of us consume the information in context of what our friends are thinking, & what majority of population is saying. In the highly inter-connected world, it is impossible to remain oblivious to the first reactions or pre-occupied responses of the world before one consumes the product oneself. And good marketers are leveraging this to a huge advantage!

How is one not going to like iPad?! The whole world loves it, and it’s from Apple!!! How much of that is first-hand reaction? Well, when an avalanche with tonnes of snow heads your way, you wouldn’t want to think of the gunshot that triggered it! This is Avalanche Marketing!!! Better get used to it and use it too.

PS: The other day, I saw some of my friends on Twitter tweeting about #chai (Tea). Almost everyone seemed to be pitching in with tweets on #chai, it didn’t matter if that made any sense. I tweeted a #chai song or two, and felt really good – I managed to fit in, didn’t I?!

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  1. #1 by Ketan on April 11, 2010 - 2:38 pm

    Yes, conformism seems to be ingrained in species. It seems to be remnant of those times when every organism’s needs were the same within the species. Even ants communicate to fellow ants which place is “good” (where food is available).

    Though you have written the post from an advertiser’s or neutral perspective, from a consumer’s perspective, one needs to realize what their needs are.

    Probably I am a very weird kind of consumer. I get bugged by questions like “how is the movie?” or “should I take up this academic course?”. Because I would respectively say “I found the movie good. If you like this & this kind of movie, you might like it” and “this course involves studying this & this, and you’ll get this kind of job, with such & such work hours”. I would ask others to decide what their priorities are. So personally I have never been able to relate to the idea of blind trusting of others’ choices without knowing their priorities.

    Personally, if something becomes very popular it would raise my curiosity, and I might buy it as well. But it’s unlikely I will buy something only to conform.

    • #2 by Ashish Bhagwat on April 11, 2010 - 2:47 pm

      @Ketan,

      You know what, if we were to ask the population whether thy believe everything that others say – no one would agree. We all like to believe to have our own mind. And in fact that’s absolutely true. But Human behavior and Human thinking are two different things. One’s mind may be screaming out with pukes, the words coming out of the mouth may still sound sweet as Honey – Mannerisms, Etiquettes and Conformism my dear! Here’s a link to another similar post but on a different slant altogether – http://wp.me/pN8i1-q 🙂

      For instance, how many would have the energy to fight an argument against general opinion that 3 Idiots is a great Amir movie!

      Thanks for adding your thoughts!

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