Word of mouth is the oldest form of organic brand promotion and is known to deliver the most effective results. Swedish startup Brandie is cashing on this concept by digitising the entire format.
Brandie, founded in 2013, is built on the principle that consumers already endorse their favourite brands on social media. With Brandie, brands can now reward this behaviour, encourage and enhance it and build a network of brand loyalists on the way. The platform, which entered India earlier this year, has partnered with almost 15 brands, including Nature’s Basket, Air India and Epigamia.
In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, founders of the platform, Pranav Kosuri and Douglas Andersson, talk about introducing the new trend in digital marketing that also incentivises regular users and realises maximum conversion for brands.
“The reality is what actually drives the highest conversion and what really influences people's purchasing decisions is through friends and family members, which actually is word of mouth marketing. Brandie helps and collects people that love the brand and turn them into actually talking about the brand on social media in a more frequent and organised structure. This is something we call crowd marketing,” said Kosuri.
Andersson said the platform is democratising the whole concept of influencer marketing.
“It is not about the brands using the customers but it is also about customers actually getting something back, which is like building a win-win situation. Today, the economy has kind of shifted towards a situation where once you get a certain number of followers, your voice has value. However, it doesn't matter how many followers you have. Brands don’t need to buy an opinion. We are getting all our insights on how to build a powerful community that can drive brands. It gives brands the real loyalty as these users are the ones that actually make the brands survive. We are shifting the whole market behaviour of not only rewarding the top 1% of the social media users, but rewarding the other 99% as well,” he said.
Asked how important these communities are for brands, he said, “For a brand to have a community of loyal customers is really essential to get out in the market and survive. And for brands to acknowledge such customers becomes more important. Even by highlighting a couple of users in their own social media feed, this customer base feels that they are being heard and seen by the brand.”
Talking about the business model on which it operates, Kosuri said the platform does not charge the users but works only with brands for finances. Providing users with the unique experiences such as events, pre-access, it aims to build a meaningful relationship between the two.
In Europe and USA, the platform used to work essentially only on B2B products but in India, the platform is focusing the consumer-facing products only.
“In India, we have really observed that most of the mom and pop stores work on the principle of word of mouth marketing. Initially, we partnered with a few of them and the results were completely mind blowing. The platform in that sense, serves the purpose for all the brands across the tier 1,2,3 or 4 cities,” said Kosuri.
Differing itself from the platforms that offer discounts to the users, he said, “We're driving in kind of a new marketing way. We are not the discount platform or just an influencer platform. We're plugging on the long tail of how brands can amplify all their marketing efforts, leveraging the satisfied customers. Brands get the same effect as influencer marketing, but from a trusted source that actually is meaningful and valuable.”
But isn’t this disruptive marketing strategy would have a negative impact on the influencers who had been endorsing the brands for a longer period of time?
To this, Andersson said, “One big difference is influencer marketing is a paid relationship of a brand with someone who might or might not be using the product in real. In this crowd marketing, brands are reinvesting in their own existing customers. It's a lot more expensive to get a new customer than who already is your customer.”
But why would a brand choose to work with Brandie? Answering this, Kosuri said, “Brands have realised that once they put all their bets on one single influencer, they can put themselves to a lot of risk as influencers can switch to various brands at the same time. Moreover, their creativity and messages are decided and tailored by the brands. At the same time, we come down to the real customers. There's going to be a different kind of quality sharing in content, but a real and meaningful message will be there. It enables brands to work with this large chunk of people that have the same reach as an influencer.”
When asked if they see brands adopting this strategy at a bigger scale anytime soon, Kosuri said, “Yes, definitely. The interest is huge here in India. Brands do understand that user-generated content is crucial for anyone to actually convert people into adaptive users. Most of the other marketing strategies only target the early adopters in a market segment. But then when you need the product adoption into actually getting the mass majority, they need to get their friends or families recommendation. And thus, it has not been hard for us to get brands on board.”
He said the platform is planning to work closely with the brands that have the scale to do crowd marketing and that too for a longer period of time. He said, “We want to work with the brands that have brand love among consumers. We don't really want to construct a forced behaviour.”
The platform entered India in the beginning of this year and has partnered with almost 15 brands, including Nature’s Basket, Air India and Epigamia. During the ongoing festive season, the platform has been offering new stickers and hashtags, enhancing the messaging of the users.
As the platform keeps data of its users, it has been working on a sound data management system without infiltrating into consumers' personal data. Other than that, it keeps a transparent relationship with the brands it is working with.
“We do not share any information across brands unless we have permission from the brands to share insights, because there are a lot of cross-brand collaborations on our platform. So, in our CRM dashboard, brands can actually get real-time insights on what pictures are being shared, by whom.”