Consumers’ responses to viral marketing messages

In marketing on January 10, 2010 by Magnolia Tagged:

Viral marketing, as all the marketing communications tools, has pros and cons in order to influence the consumers’ responses towards the brands. The results of my research indicate that viral marketing efforts are  extremely effective to build brand awareness. These results are based on the consumers’ responses to three successful viral marketing campaigns: Drumming Gorilla (Cadbury), Walk in Fridge (Heineken) and Ronaldinho Touch of Gold (Nike).

The findings of this study are supported by other researches. Dobele, Toleman and Beverland (2005) and Ferguson (2008) analyzed, through case study research of some of the most successful viral marketing campaigns, the consumers’ responses to viral marketing stimuli in terms of brand awareness and attitudes and motivations regarding the brand.

Ferguson (2008) explored consumers’ responses to eight real life campaigns of well-known multinational companies such as Lego, Dell, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts and Procter and Gamble. He interviewed the marketing directors of these companies and the head managers of the online advertising agencies which conducted the viral marketing campaigns. The conclusions of this study are as follows:

  • Viral marketing strategies are extremely useful to build brand awareness (e.g.: Burger Kings’ subservient Chicken was seen by 20 millions people).
  • Viral marketing campaigns encourage word of mouth which, consequently, leads to trial and acquisition.
  • Viral marketing strategies can be used to build effectively consumer loyalty. Viral marketing campaigns may be used to promote loyalty programs.

Dobele and her colleagues (2005) analyzed seven viral marketing campaigns released by international companies as Honda, Pepsi, Sony and Procter and Gamble. They attempted to identify the strategies behind the success of these campaigns and their effects on consumer behaviour.

These researchers concluded that viral marketing campaigns have a significant influence in changing the consumers’ brand image and positioning and increasing trial. They explained this influence by the voluntary nature of forwarding messages which is perceived favourably by the receivers and, consequently, it leads to positive attitudes towards the brand.


Dobele, A., Toleman, D., and Beverland, M., 2005. Controlled infection! Spreading the brand message through viral marketing. Business Horizons. 48, pp. 143—149

Ferguson, R., 2008.  Word of mouth and viral marketing: taking the temperature of the hottest trends in marketing. Journal of Consumer Marketing. 25(3), pp. 179-182

2 Responses to “Consumers’ responses to viral marketing messages”

  1. Hi there,

    Please can you advise what ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘maybe’ means in the table? I’m trying to understand but it doesn’t say anywhere in the article?

    • Hi Shanon,

      You are right, the chart is not clear enough. The question I asked to the respondants of this survey was: “Do you remember the brand of these videos?The figures of thes chart show the impact of these viral marketing campaigns in terms of brand awareness. More than 65% of those who have seen the viral videos remember the brand. In the case of the Drumming Gorilla (Cadbury) this percentage reaches 84%. The relationship between having seen the viral video and the awareness of the brand is very strong.

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