Monday, May 22, 2006

Radio versus Whole Foods

First I need to explain that my name of 'dietpepsi' was simply because the logo was printed on my shirt the day I created my username. Since I tend to lack creativity, I went with the easy, obvious choice.

It has come to my attention that prior to speaking in class I should realize that what I may be about to say would be better off written in a blog. Yesterday, I spoke about my potential word-of-mouth episode. My 'loud mouth' made this blog far more difficult as I tried to incorporate new ideas. However, after class yesterday I remained thinking about my time outside Whole Foods on Saturday. I was part of the 'street team' for a local radio station. We are committed to selling our station so that on Saturday, May 27th, attending the concert at the Hat Shell will be on your schedule. Yes, to answer your question I am still trying to sell the concert to you (notice the date and location included). I could continue giving my usual talk, about whose playing at the concert and other neat things that will be going on, but I'll stop. Instead, I want to ask you if you believe the encounters that I had this past weekend can be indentified as word-of-mouth.

On the table decorated with our radio banner, we had several coupons for yogurt drinks, garden burgers, natural cookies and other organic products. Cups for taste testing also made an appearance. One man imparticular that I recall came up to our booth unsure of what to do. He expressed his strong interest in a certain yogurt drink product, yet we weren't advertising that drink. Instead, we had coupons for a different yogurt drink(in addition to taste testers). The man tried the drink and liked what he tasted. He grabbed the coupons, said he was going to buy the product he had just tried, and turned around.

What he did next was certainly a word-of-mouth episode. He recommended the flavored drink to the complete stranger standing behind him. Now the next person in line was excited and curious to sample the drink. Since no one was behind this man, the 'chain' stopped. I wonder just how long it could have continued had there been more people behind him. Is it considered word-of-mouth if it initially starts with a coupon and somewhat of an not trusted opinion, but then the decision is made by the individual? Another thing that happened was when I was nibbling on one of the oatmeal cookies. A mother of two came up to me and said, "my girls see your reaction to the cookie. It looks great! Can they try it?"

The people walking into Whole Foods probably had little idea that representatives of a radio station would be standing outside promoting both a concert and Whole Foods that day. While some individuals stormed right past our tent, others stopped to mingle and became curious of what we were doing on that cold, rainy morning. I can admit to knowing next to nothing about the products which sat in front of me. I realized in a short time that I could bullshit to the customers and pretend to be educated in what I was giving away. My 'false knowledge' led others to believe the products were good AND healthy. Was I being unethical simply because it was my job to promote these products?


DavetheRave said...

I think you’re completely right with some of the problems of defining word of mouth. Sometimes it’s hard to study something that is right under our nose. Furthermore the ethics of these word of mouth episodes strike at the heart of our everyday lives the line between business and consumer blur with each passing day.

PS hope the show goes well, if I was going to be in town, id be there!

KERandall said...


Thank's for elaborating on your "street team" experience mentioned in class. I would say that your position outside of Whole Foods, providing samples probably would not be classified as WOM. Yes, you are providing samples and 'spreading the word' about the products at Whole Foods. However, you are basically just outside Whole Foods to provide some publicity for the concert. I would just consider this advertising.

I think the example you provide about the man trying the yogurt drink is without a doubt WOM. He tried the product, and then, without anyone asking him to do so, he spread the word about this great new drink he tried.

I don't think you were being unethical by promoting these products. I mean, consumers know you were a representative of the radio station and they know your intention was to raise awareness of the concert. Had you been some sort of under cover employee who pretended you were not affiliated with the company - I think there would be a question of ethics.