The Burberry Brand

Blurring Physical and Digital Experiences


One brand that has seamlessly integrated their online and offline experience by blurring the physical and digital worlds is Burberry. What the brand has experienced in the last decade perfectly captures the changing landscape of brand experiences due to digital technologies. In 1856, 21-year-old Thomas Burberry founded what is now an iconic British luxury brand. Since the company’s establishment 159 years ago and the introduction of its signature trench coat in 1914, Burberry has grown into a global fashion powerhouse with 214 store locations in 50 countries and 10,600 employees (Burberry, 2015). The brand currently offers a diverse range of outerwear, fashion accessories, fragrances, sunglasses and cosmetics for men, women and children.

The previous nine years has seen Burberry go above and beyond to offer their consumers a complete brand experience. To engage consumers with the brand, Burberry has developed increasingly personalised and connected experiences across consumer touch points. They connect with customers globally through their runway shows, marketing innovations, campaign talent or music, and by utilising digital and customer insight to enhance customer experiences. Burberry finished the year 2014 as one of the most followed luxury brands on social media, including over 16 million followers on Facebook, over four million on Twitter and over four million on Instagram (Burberry, 2014).

Authentic Branding for a Global Audience: Angela Ahrendts 

Burberry understood that consumers are becoming increasingly mobile and global, and therefore continued to invest in digital commerce. To further enhance the user experience, the brand improved its mobile site and invested in search engine and browser optimisation, data analytics, customer management tools and delivery options (Burberry, 2014). The customer is the core concern for all brand activities, thus, Burberry focused on improving sales productivity online and in stores by:

  • Continuing to invest in customer insight and analytics to better understand the core luxury consumer,
  • Introducing its customer value management program, which is a loyalty and retention tool used globally to serve customers better, and
  • Continuing to invest in sales associates and store management training (Burberry, 2014).

Burberry key events are fully integrated into the brand’s digital platforms and brought to life for global audiences through live, interactive experiences that have included 3D and hologram runway shows, innovative social media partnerships such as Tweetwalk and BeautyBooth, and immersive events that blend large-scale digital installations with live music (Burberry, 2015).

The Burberry Identity, Design & Packaging


Burberry has launched a number of platforms as part of their customer journey innovation, with a strong focus on personalisation. For example, Runway Made to Order allows customers to purchase and personalise next season’s runway outerwear and accessories for delivery in 8 weeks (Burberry, 2015). In 2012 Burberry Bespoke went live on offering approximately 12 million possible styles, and began introducing the My Burberry monogramstyles in physical stores in London and Chicago in 2013 (Ahrendts, 2013). The brand also launched the Burberry Beauty Box in 2013; the space offers customers the choice to interact with the world of Burberry Beauty and accessories through physical and digital experiences. Customers are offered a variety of experiences ranging from one-to-one consultations with a Burberry Beauty Stylist to discover your ideal fragrance, to a virtual experience where you can try on the latest Burberry runway nail shades. The My Burberry Digital Experience enables customers to digitally interact with a large screen to discover the scent, explore the craftsmanship, watch the My Burberry campaign video and create their own virtual monogrammed bottled (Burberry, 2015).

The Burberry Beauty Box

Burberry Communications

burberryResigned CEO, Angela Ahrendts (2013), noted: “we had to rethink our entire marketing approach for these customers—to make it digital. When we began, we had a few regional websites, so we consolidated them and redesigned everything on one platform. It showcases every facet of the brand. It has become the hub of all our marketing and branding, and a trench coat is always one of the first things you see when you go online”. The site is designed to speak to that millennial consumer through emotive brand content: music, movies, heritage, storytelling. And we understand how critical it is. More people visit our platform every week than walk into all our stores combined” (Ahrendts, 2013)

The brand launched The Art of The Trench in 2009, which is a social networking platform where Burberry lovers can share pictures of themselves or others wearing Burberry on the streets (Burberry, 2015). The brand also engages consumers on Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and most recently, Snapchat. is available in 44 countries in eight languages, with live Click to Call, Click to Chat, Twitter and Sina Weibo customer service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (Burberry, 2015).

Burberry introduced Burberry Kisses in 2013, Christopher Bailey (CEO) explains that the idea came from “giving technology a bit of heart and soul, and using it to unite the Burberry family across the world – by telling a story that makes the digital personal” (Burberry, 2015). “Burberry Kisses is a collaboration with Google that allows users to kiss their touch screens in Burberry colours and send their lip prints to loved ones” (Davis, 2014). The journey of each kiss is brought to life via 3D animation using Google Earth and Streetview products, which is then displayed to the recipient (Burberry, 2015).

Burberry Kisses Campaign

Like most Burberry runway shows, the menswear Spring/Summer 2016 show allowed viewers to experience the action live across the brand’s multiple online platforms and Burberry social streams. For the first time at a men’s show, Burberry streamed live via the Periscope platform, taking followers on an uninterrupted journey from the red carpet, Keston Cobblers Club’s acoustic music performance, and into a front row seat to watch the entire show (Burberry, 2015).

The Burberry Environment


Angela Ahrendts (2013), CEO of Burberry stated: “Burberry Regent Street brings our digital world to life in a physical space for the first time, where customers can experience every facet of the brand through immersive multimedia content exactly as they do online. It is Burberry World Live”. Burberry’s flagship London store features mirrors that double as video screens and use of radio-frequency identification technology Runway to Reality(RFID), which triggers related catwalk footage when products are taken into a fitting room or near a video screen. The flagship store expanded early in 2015 to create an exclusive area dedicated to gifting and to accommodate an all day café that will offer an entirely British menu (Burberry, 2015). Through Burberry Retail Theatre audio-visual technology, digital content is streamed to stores globally, ensuring a consistent brand experience is synchronised across all online and offline platforms (Burberry, 2015).

Today, customer experience is centred on “understanding the customers’ needs and motivations and designing an experience that best meets that need” (Davis, 2014). In today’s digital age, there is hardly an excuse for brands not to know what their consumers want because these technologies enable them to get a glimpse into the consumers’ mind like never before. Burberry has understood this and taken complete advantage of what digital has to offer.

Digital Technologies and Brand Experience

There is no denying that the innovation and integration of digital technologies has had an immense effect on branding concepts and practices. The rapid growth of the Internet, information systems and mobile-based technologies has completely changed the way brand experiences are delivered through all customer touch points. Current consumers no longer passively experience goods, they are now participating in the experience, adopting the products to new uses, and combining and modifying the products in order to create individually new experiences (Molesworth & Denegri, 2013). With a touch of a screen consumers can access the largest source of knowledge known to man: the World Wide Web. They are able to learn detailed information about brands and their products through company websites, social networking platforms, RSS feeds, blogs, videos, web applications and so on. These digital channels have amplified the number of potential brand touch points and created a digital element for every brand (Weber & Henderson, 2014). In today’s digital landscape, consumers are looking for brands that they can connect with and provide them with meaningful experiences that will enrich their lives.

Concept of Brand Experience

An accurate definition of the concept is given in the Journal of Marketing by Brakus, Schmitt, and Zarantonello (2009): “brand experience is conceptualised as the sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioural responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments” (p. 52). The majority of brands are experienced through direct touchpoints, such as when consumers are shopping, buying, and consuming products, and they can also be experienced through indirect touchpoints, such as exposure to marketing communications online and offline (Brakus, Schmitt. & Zarantonello, 2009). Consumers are now able to connect with brands via multiple touchpoints such as websites, mobile apps, ads, social networks, and so on. A touch-point is described as a form of engagement or experience with a marketing channel created by the brand, which can include everything from packaging design to telephone calls (Rowles, 2014). A touch-point also goes beyond brand-controlled experiences to things such as word of mouth and social media engagement. The number of platforms and touchpoints has grown immensely for current and potential customers due to the evolution and integration of online and offline access points (Kim, Khoo, & Chang, 2009).

Brand Touch Points

The brand experience is an ongoing process that begins before consumption (promotions, website, word of mouth, etc.) and continues through to the point of purchase (either online or offline) and post purchase (aftersales service). The brand experience in the most prominent factor in a potential customer’s decision to purchase a product, and “people between the ages of 25 and 34 are most likely to consider, recommend, or pay a premium price based on a better brand experience” (Weber & Henderson, 2014, p.19). It is evident that designing a strong brand experience is essential in acquiring and maintaining customers.

According to Wheeler (2012) there are five prominent principles a brand must keep in mind in order to design a strong brand experience in today’s digital landscape, these include:

  1. Ubiquitous: the brand should be available around the clock, through the right channels, and at the right time.
  2. Social: the brand should help current and potential customers build connections with others.
  3. Semantic: the brand should cut through the clutter and provide relevant information to customers.
  4. Sentient: the brand should create connections to the real world by sensing the context of customers.
  5. Human: the brand should simplify complexity and create natural ways for current and potential customers to interact with the brand.

Brand Experience in a Digital Landscape

Digital technologies such as e-commerce, Omni-channel retailing and digital marketing have altered the way brand experiences are delivered. A study conducted by Motorola Solutions (2012) found that “61% of shoppers believe they have access to more information about products than store associates and 73% of those shoppers would prefer to use their smartphone rather than engage a store associate” (p.2). Furthermore, 67% of shoppers indicated that they had a better in-store experience with associates and managers who used the latest mobile technologies (Motorola Solutions, 2012). To understand how and where exactly brand experiences are changing due to digital technologies, we need to focus on the brand related stimuli such as brand design and identity, packaging, communications and environments.


Brand Design and Identity


Central to the survival of brands in this digital environment is the need to provide a positive online brand experience that stimulates positive sensations connected to the five human senses. Current customers want (and even expect) brands to understand and meet their needs, offer relevant interactions, invite participation, engage before, during and after purchase, provide simplicity, be real and be meaningful. “A traditional view of branding says that a brand is: name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” (Rowles, 2014, p.7). In the past, consumers could only purchase items by either buying them in the store and carrying them home or by purchasing them from a catalogue or phone and having it shipped to them. Nowadays, consumers are spoiled with choice as they can combine “online, mobile, catalogue and in-store purchase options with multiple shipping points and receiving areas” (Motorola Solutions, 2012, p.13). The identity and design of a brand can be enhanced through new technologies, as companies are able to share global and unified messages to all its current and potential consumers. The brand identity has the potential to be global as the ability to reach vast amounts of people can be done effortlessly. “Consumers are focusing on those brands that engage them or turn the mundane into something more memorable” (Roodhof, 2015) and this can be done through shared messages and creating a community around the brand.

Brand Packaging

Today’s consumers have immediate needs and are looking for immediate solutions. This means that in order for brands to be successful in the digital landscape, they need to have high flexibility to enable them to adjust to the frequently changing demands of customers. This requires both a flexible production line and an easily adjustable inventory. “Online music and movie purchases reinforce the point that when you ‘click’ you can have your product instantly” (Karstedt, 2014). “Scientific advances in the ability to sense, measure and record brain waves from the frontal lobes have made it possible for us to take a look inside the brain” (Karstedt, 2014). Furthermore, digital technologies have enabled brands to provide the consumers with personalised experiences. For example, the retail brand Trunk Club ensures that each of their customers are matched with one of their brand associates so that they can create and maintain a relationship, which allows the brand to package the customer’s purchases in a way that suits their personality (Trunk Club, 2015).

Welcome to Trunk Club

Brand Communications

It is no surprise that there has been a major shift if the way businesses communicate with their consumers, as they have moved away from traditional one-way communication to two-way communication channels. According to Wheeler (2012), social media categories include communication (blogs, micro-blogs, Internet forums, social networks, and listserv), collaboration (Wikis, social bookmarks, social news, and reviews), and entertainment (photo sharing, video sharing, live-casting, audio and music sharing, virtual worlds, and games). “Social media has multiplied the potential points of connection with our prospects and customers and its interactive nature has turned static test into cross-channel dialogue” (Weber & Henderson, 2014, p.2). Molesworth and Denegri (2013) concur that technologies and design techniques “have permitted users to emerge from uninformed shoppers into discerning connoisseurs, and from passive consumers to active producers consumers” (p.17).

Blog14At first brands responded to these new technologies by delivering their marketing via multiple channels that said the same thing. This idea failed as brands realised that “different channels are used differently and we don’t want exactly the same from each” (Rowles, 2014, p.165). In order to truly engage consumers, brand need to utilise Omni-channel marketing, which “recognises that each channel plays a different role in the user journey, and this role may change and adapt according to what the person engaging with it wants” (Rowles, 2014, p.165). Customers want relevance and this is better achieved through Omni-channel solutions. According to research conducted by American psychologist Barry Schwartz, he “found that for most people, having too many options is anxiety producing rather than freeing. Highly targeted experiences that zero in our customer’s needs and desires simplify their lives; for many that is considered a gift” (Weber & Henderson, 2014, p.24).

Furthermore, mobile, big data and advanced analytics has significantly changed and enriched the customer experience. Mobiles engaging properties such as cameras, voice recognition, touch screen and GPS technology (Weber & Henderson, 2014). Smartphone users are utilizing their devices in store for a range of uses including creating shopping lists, reading product reviews, comparing prices and sending a picture to a friend about items on sale (Motorola Solutions, 2012). Big data and advanced analytics enables brands to provide their target audience with relevant information. Weber and Henderson (2014) state, “relevance increasingly requires contextualised experience that reflect that individual customer’s behaviour, preferences, current situation, and are often predictive. This type of personalised marketing experience has long been a dream for marketers, and big data and advanced analytics are now making this dream a reality” (p.24).

Brand Environments

In the mid-1990s, retailers began building facilities for online shopping as a result of the Internet boom (Molesworth & Denegri, 2013). However, physical stores remain dominant in the food, clothing and home improvement industries, and “the number of people who buy online exclusively is very limited” (Interone, 2013). With the continuous growth in technology, society has created what are called hybrid buyers, which are consumers who shop both in physical store and online (Interone, 2013). The integration of these digital technologies does not mean that the brick and mortar stores become obsolete. The majority of purchases still occur in them but it is vital that the store “leverage the right technology to give customers the same kind of information and experience they get online, but with the added familiarity and immediacy of an in-person visit” (Motorola Solutions, 2012, p.2). Surveyed retailers estimate that “by 2017, 23% fewer purchases will be completed at associated-staffed fixed POS terminals and instead, roughly half of all transactions will be completed via mobile point of sale (mPOS), or self checkout at a terminal or on a shopper’s mobile device” (Motorola Solutions, 2012, p.12)

Motorola Solutions (2012): Purchase and Options

It is evident that brands that utilise digital technologies are more likely to deliver a complete and meaningful brand experience. These brands will be better able to:

  • Provide convenience and relevant information to their customers,
  • Create lasting experiences through customising products to suit the customer,
  • Build and maintain effective relationships through two-way communication channels,
  • Improve their products and services from customer feedback, and
  • Establish an online presence through social media platforms.


Transmedia Storytelling

Transmedia storytelling may sound like a modern-day concept, however, its origins date back to the early 1960’s to the Japanese strategy of media mix (Wikipedia, 2015).  Henry Jenkins (2007) defines Transmedia Storytelling (TS) as “a process where integral elements of fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story”. To put it simply, TS is telling a story acros multiple medial and preferably with a degree of audience participation, interaction or collaboration. Jenkins perfectly describe the media world we live in today where organisations, specifically franchises, employ various media platforms such as music, television, cinema, video games, and comics to promote and build their brand.

Transmedia Model

There are three types of transmedia storytelling according to Transmedia Storyteller, “the narrative spaces covered (location, characters, time), the number and relative timing of the platforms (sequential, parallel, simultaneous, non-linear), and the extent and type of audience involvement (passive, active, interactive, collaborative)” (2015).  According to Jenkins (2007) “Most often, transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories. This process of world-building encourages an encyclopaedic impulse in both readers and writers”. This view is echoed by Scolari whom (2009) stresses, “TS is not just an adaption from one media to another. The story that the comics tell is not the same as that told on television or in cinema; the different media and languages participate and contribute to the construction of the transmedia narrative world” (p.587). Scolari (2009) believes that TS goes beyond the text and that it also greatly affects the transformations in the production and consumption processes. “Researchers and producers visualize new business opportunities for the media market as new generations of consumers develop the skills to deal with the flow of stories and become hunters of information from multiple sources” (Scolari, 2009, p.589).

Transmedia Storytelling & Marketing

Transmedia Storytelling has had a significant effect on today’s technology users, as people are now better able to access media information anytime and virtually anywhere. In order to stay relevant and engaging, the modern approach to marketing has definitely evolved to accommodate transmedia storytelling.The entertainment industry rely heavily on transmedia marketing, marketers can share their narrative world through a variety of channels such as Wed Sites, Apps, social media, cinema and so on. One of the latest multimedia franchises to date is The Hunger Games trilogy created by Suzanne Collins. The novels include, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, which have been developed into a series of films. Lionsgate and advertising agency Campfire have undertaken a transmedia marketing strategy for the franchise, whereby a variety of social media platforms, fan participation, and brand cooperation are being utilised.


The Hunger Games Facebook page enables users to listen to the films soundtrack, play a demo of The Hunger Games Adventure iOS game, and Fight Hunger by donating to charities in the United States. A Capitol official website ( ) has also been created to bring a sense of realism to the fictional world. Their Facebook page also chooses a “fan of the week” that is interviewed and published on the website. The franchise utilises YouTube through creating a fictional TV channel called Capitol TV Productions where videos are released and have been officially authorized by the Capitol for the consumption of district citizens (YouTube, 2015). In order to influence viewers to participate in The Hunger Games ‘world’, the organisation created a District Citizen Reel where people can share fan-made videos. Player Controls

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Transmedia Marketing Campaign

The transmedia marketing strategy that the franchise has adopted has been beneficial to the brand in terms of promoting the films and building a strong relationship with its fans. The Lionsgate social media campaign for The Hunger Games has so far proved to be a major success in marketing all three films, and influencing viewers to become active participants on various platforms.


  1.   Jenkins, H. (2007). Confessions of an ACA-Fan The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. Retrieved October 17, 2012, from
  2.   Pont, S. (2013). The Better Mousetrap: Brand Invention in a Media Democracy. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  3.    Scolari, C.A. (2009). Transmedia storytelling: Implicit consumers, narrative worlds, and branding in contemporary media production. International Journal of Communication, 3, 586-606.
  4.  Transmedia Storyteller. (2012). Our 7 Tenets of Future Storyworlds. Retrieved on April 1, 2015, from:
  5. YouTube. 2015. Capitol TV: Uniting Citizens Through Panem. The Hunger Games Movie.Retrieved on April 2, 2015, from
  6. Wikipedia. (2015). Transmedia storytelling. The Free Encyclopedia.Retrieved on April 1, 2015, from:

Viral Marketing for Brand Awareness


 Virality defined: The tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another; the quality of fact of being viral (Oxford Dictionaries, 2015).

People love to share stories, news and information with their immediate circle of friends or even the general public. We tell our friends about great restaurants, we chat to our family about good gift ideas, and gossip with co-workers about office scandals. We write online reviews about hotels, share articles on Facebook, upload holiday photos on Instagram, and tweet about our latest purchase. According to Berger (2013), “people share more than 16,000 words per day and every hour there are more than 100 million conversations about brands”. Viral marketing (VM) may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, E-books, brand-able software, images, text messages, email messages, or web pages (Wikipedia, 2015). The things others tell us, e-mail us, and text us have a significant impact on what we think, read, buy, and do. “Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions” (Berger, 2013). Viral marketing appears to expand in growth and importance every year, and with the development of social networking contributing to it effectiveness, it is clear that this technique will eventually become crucial for market when planning a marketing strategy.

Relationship Between Viral Marketing & Brand Awareness

In order to explain the relation between viral marketing and brand awareness, the marketing objectives of viral marketing should be explained first. Viral marketing through new media on the Internet is used to increase brand awareness or achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) and to create market share in a short period of time on a shoestring promotion budget (Krishnamurthy, 2001). Brand awareness, as defined on Wikipedia (2015), is ‘the extent to which a brand is recognised by potential customers, and is correctly associated with a particular product’. The ultimate goal of marketers interested in creating successful marketing programs is to create viral messages that appeal to individuals with high social networking potential (SNP) and that have a high probability of being presented and spread by these individuals and their competitors in their communications with others in a short period of time (Wikipedia, 2015).


Viral Marketing Explained

Viral marketing has been associated with the popularisation of the notion that ideas spread like viruses. The field that developed around this notion peaked in popularity in the 1990s (Wikipedia, 2015). Media critic, Doug Rushkoff, was one of the first to write about viral marketing on the Internet. The assumption is that if such an advertisement reaches a “susceptible” user, that user becomes “infected” (i.e., accepts the idea) and shares the idea with others “infecting them,” in the viral analogy’s terms (Wikipedia, 2015). According to De Bruyn & Lilien (2008) , “a common finding of social network theory is that demographic similarity facilitates the flow of information. People who are alike tend to interact more often and communicate more easily, and observation known as the “like-me” principle” (p.154). Therefore, when a brand gets their message out to their target audience and the audience like what the message or product they will share it with people who most likely will be interested as well.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.16.37 PM

The two types of viral marketing:

Private: this occurs when “an individual communicates information about a service to his or her social network of friends, family, co-workers, etc.” (Krishnamurthy, 2001, p.423). This may be done through e-mail, social networking websites (e.g. Facebook), or in person.

Public: this arises when individuals share their message in public forums. According to Krishnamurthy (2001), “there are also several forums on the Internet explicitly designed to elicit customer feedback either on a variety of products and services” (p.423).

The online version of traditional Word-Of-Mouth (WOM)

Social Media 1

Viral marketing is the online version of the traditional WOM literature in marketing. This is primarily due to: (i) the emergence of new technologies, such as e-mail and social networks, which have increased the level of reach and immediacy; and (ii) an increase in accessibility and reduction in costs in acquiring such technologies because now individuals are better able to communicate their opinions to a large subset of the general public.

Marketers are looking for new ways of communicating with customers and creating a dialogue with them. The growth and evolution of the Internet has led to the creation of a new format of word-of-mouth; viral marketing through new media. The ultimate goal is to “use consumer-to-consumer communications – as opposed to company-to-consumer communications – to disseminate information about a product or service, thereby leading to more rapid and cost effective adoption by the market” (De Bruyn & Lilien, 2008, p.151). Marketers are interested in creating viral messages that appeal to individuals with high social networking potential (SNP) and that have a high probability of being presented and spread by these individuals and their competitors in their communications with others (Wikipedia, 2015).

Below is a television commercial released on Old Spice‘s YouTube channel in 2010 starring Isaiah Mustafa, which has reached 50.5 million hits to date. This commercial eventually led to a popular viral marketing campaign which had Mustafa responding to various Internet comments (Wikipedia, 2015).


Another successful viral marketing campaign is Evian Baby&Me released in 2013 and has 104 million hits to date. Outside their commercial Evian included other media in their Baby&Me campaign.

Evian Print Final 1 Evian Print Final 2 Evian Print Final 5

These examples resonate with Krishnamurthy’s (2001) statement, “viral marketing presents a new way of building customer traffic by leveraging customer-to-customer relationships. When done right, it has the potential to lead to explosive growth in the customer base and rapid acceptance of the product” (p.424).

When best to use Viral Marketing

Like any other marketing tactic, organisations must still evaluate the appropriate situation to utilise viral marketing. Krishnamurthy (2001) explains when best to use viral marketing:

  • In situations where an organisation cares more about quantity rather than quality,
  • When there is not too much heterogeneity in the lifetime value of customers,
  • For companies with a strong value proposition, and that are market makers (innovators).


Krishnamurthy (2001) warns, “while viral marketing offers and organic, customer-led path for growth, it is certainly something that requires continuous managerial oversight” (p. 423). He suggests that organisations consider three things for better management:

  1. Choose the initial recipients of the message carefully and strategically. They must be popular, influential, and a representative of the company’s target market. It needs to be a strategic consideration, not done merely out of convenience.
  2. Pick the message carefully. It should communicate the organisations value proposition in a simple and clear manner, and be easy for consumers to share. It is important to strive for methods that will ensure consistency of the brand image.
  3. Put control mechanisms in place. Consider how the organisation will measure the impact of its campaign, and constantly monitor how consumers are spreading the message.

Message dissemination can either be intentional or unintentional. Unintentional dissemination occurs when consumers are not deliberate actors in the broadcasting of the marketing-message process. Hotmail gained enormous success through this tactic. The company attached a tagline at the bottom of each e-mail message that said: “Get your private, free e-mail at”. Within the first year and a half more than 12 million people created a Hotmail account. The marketing and promotion during this period cost the company only $500,000 (Krishnamurthy, 2001).

Intentional dissemination is when consumers willingly become promoters of a product or service and spread the word to their networks. De Bruyn & Lilien (2008) explain that the key reason for this type of behaviour arises when the consumer is “driven to do so either through an explicit incentive (e.g. financial incentives, need to expand network externalities) or simply out of a desire to share the product benefits with friends (e.g. fun, intriguing, valuable for others)” (De Bruyn & Lilien, 2008, p.151). For example, PayPal acquired more than 3 million users within the first nine months of launching by paying members $10 to recommend members. De Bruyn & Lilien (2008) go on to state, “these examples suggest that marketer can leverage the power of interpersonal networks to promote a product or service. The concept assumes that electronic, peer-to-peer communications are an effective means to transform (electronic) communication networks into influence networks, capturing recipients’ attention, triggering interest, and eventually leading to adoption or sales” (p.152).

Another more recent example is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

De Bruyn & Lilien (2008) developed a multi-stage model of WOM influence through viral marketing. “The multi-stage decision-making model consists of a sequence of mental stage or levels that consumers experience throughout a purchasing decision. The sequence typically incudes at least the following stages:


  1. Awareness – the consumer knows the alternatives exists, but may not have either interest in it or sufficient information to understand its possible benefits.
  2. Interest – the consumer is aware, develops more interest, and hence decides to learn more about the product.
  3. Final decision – the consumer has now taken an observable action, a purchase of a good or the sustained adoption of an innovation” (De Bruyn & Lilien, 2008, p.153).

Consumers spreading the word about products and services they have experienced depends on their level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, their commitment to the firm, length of relationship with the firm, and the novelty of the product. Furthermore, consumers rely on WOM communications over other sources of information when they lack expertise in a product category, they perceive a high risk in decision-making, and when they are deeply involved in the purchasing decision (De Bruyn & Lilien, 2008).

Disadvantages of Viral Marketing

Viral marketing can be extremely difficult to control once the message spreads online rapidly. Consumers can edit a message once they forward it to their peers, thus making it difficult to control the content of the message. Consumers that unwillingly receive messages could consider such messages as ‘spam’, which may damage a brands reputation. Finally, it can be challenging for marketers to control the campaign’s timing. Therefore, control can be seen as the most important and challenging factor of a viral marketing campaign in order to maintain a good relationship with consumers.

Most of us have heard expressions that suggest that any publicity is good publicity, however “all existing studies of negative publicity have found its effects to be negative” (Berger, et al., 2010, p.816). We have all seen situations where a business, community, or individual has experienced negative consequences due to certain content becoming viral. For businesses, it is common knowledge that “negative reviews, messages, or rumours hurt product evaluations and reduce purchase likelihood and sales” (Berger, et al., 2010, p.816). Berger, et al, (2010) disagree that negative publicity only causes damage to businesses, as they believe it may have positive effects when the goal is to increasing awareness or accessibility. They state that “consumers have finite attention, and the sheer multitude of cultural offerings means that most consumers will not be aware of every book, movie, or album that is released. Similarly, people may know about a product, but information varies its accessibility and is less likely to affect behaviour when it is not top of mind” (Berger, et al., 2010, 817).

It can be reasoned that publicity may have positive affects if it makes consumers more aware or encourages the product to be top of mind. “We suggest that whether negative publicity has positive or negative effects will depend on existing product awareness and accessibility” (Berger, et al., 2010, 817). For example, when brand awareness is high, negative publicity will most likely hurt sales, lower product evaluation, and decrease consumer choice. “In contrast, through increasing awareness, negative publicity may increase sales when product awareness or accessibility is low. If few people know about a book released by a new author, any publicity, regardless of valence, should increase awareness” (Berger, et al., 2010, p. 817).

How to Conduct a Successful Viral Marketing Campaign

Berger (2013) proposes six key STEPPS that cause things to be talked about, shared, and imitated:

Principle 1: Social Currency

Most people would rather look smart than dumb, rich than poor, and cool than geeky. Just like the clothes we wear and the cars we drive, what we talk about influences how others see us. It’s social currency. Knowing about cool things makes people seem sharp and in the know. Therefore, we need to craft messages that help them achieve these desired impressions. We need to find our inner remarkability and make people feel like insiders. We need to leverage game mechanics to give people ways to achieve and provide visible symbols of status that they can show to others.

Principle 2: Triggers

These are stimuli that prompt people to think about related things. Peanut butter reminds us of jelly and the word “dog” reminds us of the word “cat.” People often talk about whatever comes to mind, so the more often people think about a product or idea, the more it will be talked about. We need to design products and ideas that are frequently triggered by the environment and create new triggers by linking our products and ideas to prevalent cues in that environment. Top of mind leads to tip of tongue.

Principle 3: Emotion

Naturally contagious content usually evokes some sort of emotion. Blending an iPhone is surprising. A potential tax hike is infuriating. Emotional things often get shared. So rather than harping on function, we need to focus on feelings. However, some emotions increase sharing, while others actually decrease it. So we need to pick the right emotions to evoke. Sometimes even negative emotions may be useful.

Principle 4: Public

It’s hard to copy something you can’t see – Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular. So we need to make our products and ideas more public. We need to design products and initiatives that advertise themselves and create behavioural residue that sticks around even after people have bought the product or espoused the idea.

Principle 5: Practical Value

People like to help others, so if we can show them how our products or ideas will save time, improve health, or save money, they’ll spread the word. But given how inundated people are with information, we need to make our message stand out. We need to understand what makes something seem like a particularly good deal. We need to highlight the incredible value of what we offer—monetarily and otherwise. And we need to package our knowledge and expertise so that people can easily pass it on.

Principle 6: Stories

People don’t just share information, they tell stories. But just like the epic tale of the Trojan Horse, stories are vessels that carry things such as morals and lessons. Information travels under the guise of what seems like idle chatter. So we need to build our own Trojan horses, embedding our products and ideas in stories that people want to tell. But we need to do more than just tell a great story. We need to make #virality valuable. We need to make our message so integral to the narrative that people can’t tell the story without it.


  1. Berger, J. (2013). ‘Contagious: Why Things Catch On’. New York, Simon & Schuster. Retrieved from:
  2. Berger, J. & Sorensen, A.T. & Rasmussen, S.J. (2010). Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: When Negative Reviews Increase Sales. Marketing Science. Vol. 29, No. 5, September-October 2010, pp. 815-827
  3. De Bruyn, A. and Lilien, G.L. (2008). A multi-stage model of word-of-mouth influence through viral marketing. International Journal of Research in Marketing, Vol. 25, Issue 3, Pages 151-163.
  4. Krishnamurthy, Sandeep (2001), “Viral Marketing- What Is It And Why Must Every Service Marketer Care?”, Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 15(6&7), Pages 422-424.
  5. Oxford Dictionaries. (2015). Virality. British & World English. Retrieved from
  6. Welker, C.B. (2002). The paradigm of Viral Communication. Journal of Information Services and Use. Volume 22, Number 1/2002 p3-8
  7. (2015). Viral Marketing. The Free Encyclopaedia. Retrieved from:

The Digital Divide

Most people living in wealthy, western countries take for granted the ease of access they have to information and communication technologies (ICT). The fact that we are surrounded by knowledge and expertise that enable us to be in multiple online environments simultaneously has blinded us from the sad reality that not everyone is as fortunate as we are when it comes to accessing information. When thinking of those less fortunate, we envision those that live in third world countries, but truth of the matter is that people living within the same country are just as susceptible to the negative effects of the digital divide. A definition of this concept can be found in Flews’ New media: An introduction (2014) where he explains this concept as “the gap between populations that have easy access to ICTs and those who remain underserved by these technologies” (p.23).

The digital divide can be divided into two sub-categories:

  1. The ‘global divide’ which relates to the differences in access to the internet and ICT’s that occur between nations,
  2. And the ‘social divide’, which refers to similar issues regarding information access, but as a means of social engagement within nations (Flew, 2014).

2000px-Internet_users_per_100_inhabitants_ITU.svg (1) LARGE

Katherine Bagchi (2005) states, “When assessed by region, Internet use is dominated by North Americans:

  • 41% of the global online population is in the United States and Canada
  • 27% of the online population lives in Europe, the Middle East and Africa
  • 20% of the online population logs on from Asia Pacific
  • 4% of the world’s online population is in South America”.

In today’s digital society, being cut off from telecommunications can have detrimental effects on an individuals potential for growth. The Pew Internet Project brings light to the shocking truth experienced in America. According to the findings, “One in five American adults does not use the internet” and “they don’t know enough about technology to start using the internet on their own” (Zickuhr & Smith, 2014). The citizens of America are experiencing a digital divide with those that live in the same country. This may come as a surprise since the country has adequate infrastructure compared to most countries. Zickuhr & Smith (2014) noted that the strongest negative predictors for internet use were being older than the age of 65, a lack of high school education, and earning a household income of less than US$20,000 per year. In addition to this, they found that respondents who chose to answer the Pew Internet Project survey in Spanish rather than English used the internet less frequently as well.

DIgital Divide Info graphic

DIgital Divide Info graphic

Growing up in a nation where I have been on the better side of the digital divide has provided me with endless opportunities to expand my knowledge of the world. However, my frequent travels to third world countries opened my eyes to the negative side of the divide. University of California, Irvine’s’ David Ganley (2005) explains that “Being on the wrong side of the digital divide means being behind in creating the technology base necessary to participate in the global economy and, thus, missing an important opportunity for economic and social benefits”. He proposes that there are five significant determinant factors that affect the adoption of Information Technologies (IT) in his ‘Global digital divide: A multi-generational country-level analysis’. These include a country’s per capita GDP, size of urban population, average education level, technology costs, and the importance of the trade sector.

In terms of my profession, marketers are primarily concerned with three things, who, when, and where. It is vital that they reach and engage the right consumer, at the right time, and in the right context. Now due to the ramifications of the digital divide, especially the social divide, marketers’ are concerned with three prominent factors, these are:

  1. Multichannel marketing,
  2. Cross channel marketing, and
  3. Real-time interactive marketing.

It has become much harder to execute such practices because people either don’t have access to the mediums necessary or they are not aware how to use it effectively (Bagchi, 2005). As you can see from the video above, digital tools have become entrenched in marketing practices; therefore, if consumers don’t have the means or the knowledge to access or transfer messages from brands then marketers’ are not able to reach their whole audience.


Restructuring Community – A World Without Walls


Definition of GLOBALIZATION:

“Globalization refers to the rapidly developing process of complex interconnections between societies, cultures, institutions and individuals world-wide. It is a social process which involves a compression of time and space, shrinking distances through a dramatic reduction in the time taken ± either physically or representationally ± to cross them, so making the world seem smaller and in a certain sense bringing them “closer” to one another” (Tomlinson, 1999).

Globalization & Marketing Practices

Globalisation has had an immense affect on marketing concepts and practices especially due to the diffusion of computer-based technologies and information systems. Since the rapid growth of technological advances such as the Internet, we have been privy to the growth of knowledge access, thus influencing majority of major brands to become globally consumed. According to Wikipedia, “By 2010, 22 percent of the world’s population had access to computers with 1 billion Google searches every day, 300 million Internet users reading blogs, and 2 billion videos viewed daily on YouTube” (Wikipedia, 2014). Globalisation has lead to a more interdependent and integrated global economy, therefore exposing many companies to other cultures and business practices. Consumers are becoming multicultural due to high exposure of other brands. In order to remain innovative and relevant, companies, specifically global companies, must adjust their marketing concepts and practices to relate to other cultures.

Hosmer (2014) states, “the 4 P’s on Marketing, product, price, place and promotion become greater challenges when applied to global marketing. If your company’s marketing efforts are constrained by keeping domestic and international marketing messages the same, the challenge of branding, pricing in international current, foreign distribution channels and promotional advertising may not translate well”. Before a company enters an international market it is crucial that they have completed extensive market research. “There is an important aspect of advertising in foreign market – that being, the culture and cultural symbols of the target market are of critical importance. When creating communications, we are taught first and foremost to know out audience. Who our audience is will be essential to choosing the type of creative (language, visuals, media etc.) we use to make our messaging relevant and appealing” (Fromowitz, 2013).

According to Park (2014), “It is unlikely that markets will converge entirely because of differences in history, sociology, culture, physical and legal environments, and many other micro-aspects”. A successful way for companies to drive global campaigns is to embrace and utilise digital marketing as a platform. For example, NIKE is one the most successful global brands in the world due to their international marketing campaigns. “The company operates through six business segments, classified based on geographical presence: North America, Western Europe, emerging markets, Greater China, Central and Eastern Europe, and Japan. Each of these geographic segments operates primarily in one industry: the design, development, marketing and selling of athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment” (MarketLine Advantage, 2014). The brand recently launched their online store NIKEiD, which allows customers design their own shoes and clothing. Through their online store Nike viewed this as an opportunity to connect to consumers as individuals and is a great example of how the ‘one size fits all’ mentality does not necessarily work. “They identified that developing products that allow them to connect with their target customers on a personal level across a multitude of cultures and markets was a key success driver. They also smartly combined this with an increased emphasis on social media as an advertising medium” (Griffith, 2012).


Self expression: It empowers us. It defines our individuality. It reveals who we are. Because style is a deeply personal act of self expression, NIKEiD puts the power of creation into your hands. It’s true individuality – achieved through performance, fit, and style. Create your custom original (YouTube, 2014).

My customised NIKEiDs

My customised NIKEiDs

My customised NIKEiDs

My customised NIKEiDs


  1. Fromowitz, M. (2013). Campaign Asia-Pacific. Cultural Blunders: Brands gone wrong. Retrieved from:,Cultural+blunders+Brands+gone+wrong.aspx
  2. Griffith, I. (2012). Smart Insights. How social media and digital marketing has impacted global branding. Retrieved from:
  3. Hosmer, C. (2014). Small Business by Demand Media. Definition of Marketing Globalization. Retrieved from:
  4. (2014). Globalization. Retrieved from:
  5. MarketLine Advantage. (2014). NIKE Inc. Company description. Retrieved from:
  6. Park, D. (2014). B2B International – Beyond Knowledge. Globalisation and Marketing. Retrieved from:
  7. Tomlinson, J. (1999) `Cultural globalization: placing and displacing the West’ in H. Mackay and T. O’Sullivan (eds) The Media Reader: Continuity and Transformation. London: Sage.
  8. (2014). The Free Encyclopaedia. Globalization. Retrieve from:
  9. (2014). NIKEiD. Made For You.Retrieved rom: