Driving Viral Marketing Through Attitude Formation

Social media has revolutionised the advertisement industry by introducing innovative ways to communicate the intended information to target consumers in highly customised formats. Traditional mediums like print and broadcasting paved the way for internet and mobile marketing. Advertisement success is measured by the Click-Through Rates (CTR). Advertisers pay for ‘eyeballs’ or ‘impressions’. Views, likes, shares and comments have become the parameters for gauging the quality of the marketed product or service. Segment-based targeting helps advertisers channelize their resources effectively and consumers too end up gaining from it as it satisfies their specific needs.

What kicked off simply as an activity of dumping a bucket of ice cold water into the body to promote awareness about and seek donation for a disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in the United States in July 2014 soon caught millions globally in its grasp. Participants accept the challenge thrown by their friends and/or agree to donate for ALS. They then nominate their friends and all the acts are immediately shared on social media sites. The bucket challenge garnered 1.2 million video shares on facebook, 2.2 million mentions on Twitter within 2 months of its start. In India, it was made popular when celebrities from Bollywood and Sports took up the challenge and shared their videos online.

The Ice-Bucket challenge cleverly uses social media to create attitudes. The Tri-Component model is a popular model in Consumer Behaviour which talks about the various elements of attitudes used by marketers to form favourable consumer associations with a brand. The model has 3 components: Cognitive (utility-based), affective (emotion- and feeling-based) and Conative (something that drives purchase behaviour of consumers).The benefit to the ALS community is a strong cognitive component for people. It triggers various affective elements that exist by involving close friends, celebrities and the noble cause. The whole process is facilitated by application of the strong conative component of word-to-mouth. Collecting cold water in a bucket, capturing a video and sharing it online with few clicks are easy yet innovative conative activities at play. While friends create association, celebrities drive further attention. Watching celebrities do unusual acts is refreshingly funny and generates various positive emotions. Being associated with a social cause triggers the affiliation need of people. It enhances their self-esteem by increasing their feeling of acceptance and belonging to a socially responsible community.

There is a concept of figure-and-ground in marketing. Figure refers to the central idea whereas ground is the background surrounding the central idea. Marketers have to ensure that the figure is always the prominent object or idea whereas the ground is the lesser important projection. Argument against ice-bucket challenge is that that fun becomes the figure, whereas the real cause settles as the ground. However, no one can discount the fact that this social campaign has by itself been able to generate $220 million as voluntary donations. This has further implications for marketers who are always on a look-out for ways to reach out to their consumers in the most effective ways. It’s true that the success of something like Gangnam style or Kolaveri Di cannot be predicted so accurately, but drawing on from all that goes viral, it can be said that there always has to be the Tri-component Attitude Model in place to ensure greater success. In a digital space, a clear single-point benefit (cognitive), a mix of various positive associations (affective) and easy-to-apply and-share (conative) methods would definitely create, if not a viral phenomenon, a buzz with varying degrees across the target segments.


Subir Roy

I am pursuing a Post Graduate Program in Management at IIM Bangalore. I have an electrical engineering background. I have worked for 2 years across Power Sector and Consultancy. Currently, I am in the publicity and design team in the Marketing Club and also in the Student Alumni Committee as a Senior Coordinator at IIM Bangalore. In my leisure time, I love to sing, compose music and read books.

Subir Roy

well I am here to be in touch with my old friends and also make new ones..... I am fun loving, friendly and optimistic........ So folks, have a gr8 time!!!