The Extreme Word of Mouth: Evangelism Marketing

Recently, in the fifth semester of our PGDM course at IFIM B-School, in a subject called Global Brand Strategy, taught by a senior professor,  Mr. Anand Narshima, we did a case study on Starbucks. One of the things we had to do as an assignment, was to find two marketing concepts relevant to that particular case and present it.

After working our grey cells for 6 hours we thought of ‘evangelism marketing’ and I think you all will be surprise to know how relevant this concept was to this case.

Now let’s see what evangelism is marketing first.

According to Wikipedia,

“Evangelism marketing is an advanced form of word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) in which companies develop customers who believe so strongly in a particular product or service that they freely try to convince others to buy and use it. The customers become voluntary advocates, actively spreading the word on behalf of the company.”

 Image

Now let’s see just how relevant the concept is to Starbucks.

In case of Starbucks, we found a perfect evangelist who goes by the name Winter. He is a freelance software programmer and consultant, but is best known for his goal to visit every Starbucks location in the world. Amazingly, he visits as many as 29 locations in one day, and until now, has visited 11,445 Starbucks stores. In US/Canada, he has covered 99% of the stores and has been to 2468 international stores.

So what’s the point of all this? Well, after visiting each store he talks about his experience on his own website. This is what is called a perfect evangelist or a perfect executor of evangelism marketing for Starbucks.

There is also a 40-min documentary on Winter which includes his visit to different Starbucks stores and interaction with people. It makes quite an interesting watch.

This isn’t, however, where the saga of Starbucks’ evangelist ends. After my presentation the question which was thrown to me really had me stumped. Guess what it was. Prof. Anand Narsimha asked “How are you so sure that Winter is an evangelist for Starbucks? The company might be paying him just to promote Starbucks in a unique way.”

So guys now the question passes to you. What do you think is he paid or a real evangelist for Starbucks?

Author: Choudhary Harish

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7 comments

  1. i think he has been paid for all this… personally i don’t think one can just waste his life for visiting starbucks stores… there is higher chances that company may be paying him heavily…
    there is an exmple of a movie clle “The Joneses”… in this movie company has developed perfect segmentation and targetting of their customer and strategic moves have been taken… just watch it.. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1285309/

    1. ya true but who knows he may have some self interest in creating some record but yes we cant deny he has got publicity from his evangelism marketing.

      1. what i am thinking is if that person have a craze than it must be of visiting any outlet for coffee… if its brand specific than its brand loyalty… but WHAT IF A PERSON VISITS 29 OUTLETS OF STARBUCKS A DAY?? WHAT YOU CALL IT?? according to me its definitely marketing strategy by starbucks… correct me if i am wrong

  2. Well, the term evangelist could be relative; from an extremist to liberal. One wouldn’t spread a positive/negative word of mouth until he has had a good/bad experience associated with the company. There should be a good value proposition that would make a person talk good; and he talks!!. No one would be such an enthusiast to spend half of his life and money in knowing his closely associated company. When we talk about StarBucks, thinking very logically, it is a coffee shop in simple terms. A coffee shop, though Cafe Coffee Day says that Everything happens over a coffee, it ain’t real. Anyone wouldn’t want to do so much for a coffee shop that Winter has done, like what StarBucks claims. If someone has to do something like this, in real, the company must have been a real life changer like may be a hospital chain that has saved your loved ones life which others couldn’t do or an extra sentimental attachments like your first company of work, possibly!! but StarBucks is apparently not just of that kind. You come, drink coffee, go. More over, if a video has been made out of it, it is, at least for me, understood that he has been paid.

    1. @Ganaraj: Documentaries are made about a lot of things and a very few are paid. Maybe he is an attention seeker riding on the popularity of Starbucks. Maybe he just had a great experience there. Maybe he just wanted a goal in life. Just another way of thinking

  3. I will tell you a story about extreme word of mouth. I don’t know if you have read it before. Happened in the month of Augst
    Hasan Syed was a passenger on British Airways. The airline lost his baggage and was slow in resolving the issue. You know, typical poor customer service.

    As a lot of other people have done in similar situations where they want to air a grievance, Syed took to Twitter — only he added a twist. Instead of just tweeting, Syed, who uses the Twitter handle @HVSVN, spent $1,000 buying promoted tweets in the New York and U.K. markets, using Twitter’s self-serve ad platform..

    His tweet — “Don’t fly @British_Airways. Their customer service is horrendous.” — was aimed at people who follow the British Airways account on Twitter.

    Syed spun out a series of increasingly sarcastic posts blasting British Airways:

    Soon the whole thing went viral. As word spread, the campaign was picked up by CNN, the BBC, and written about on sites like The Daily Dot, Mashable, and Gawker.

    Syed started posted the tweets on Monday. British Airways responded on Tuesday, but its response only made things worse, because the airline said it hadn’t seen the tweets at first since “our Twitter feed is open 0900–1700 GMT.” Syed then mocked the airline for being a huge corporation running a 24/7 business but only watching Twitter for eight hours a day.

    The whole thing got resolved, and Syed got his bags back. And British Airways issued a statement apologizing to him.

    You can look at the tweets on this post http://www.inquisitr.com/934095/disgruntled-british-airways-twitter-user-buys-promoted-tweets-to-publicize-bad-experience/.

    Recently Salman Kahn also tweeted complaining about his range rover on Twitter, but he doesn’t need promoted tweets due to his reach and fan following.

    What do you think about it. Evangelism Marketing, the Extreme Word of Mouth. Sayed paid for it. Salman used it like a DADA giri.

    1. Hello Ankit,
      Thanks for sharing your views,but see Evangelism marketing means influencing people in positive way for the particular brand or company which is voluntarily not paid,but if you see the case of Salman and Sayed this is not a Evangelism marketing it is just they were unhappy and used the social media to promote it.
      here you can check one more good example where a person was unhappy with Abercrombie and what he did with the help of social media against the company. check it out this video

      Thank you

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