Business Week this week has an article on how P&G has mobilized 600,000 moms to chat up its products. Under the umbrella of Vocalpoint, which will take on assignments for P&G as well as other clients, P&G has developed the largest army of word-of-mouth agents yet.
A key requirement to becoming part of the Vocalpoint team of “buzzers” is to have a large social network. Vocalpoint mothers generally speak to 25 to 30 other women during the day, while the average mom talks just to five. In return for spreading the word about new products to friends and family, they get product samples and a sense of empowerment by being given a voice back to the manufacturer for which they are pitching products.
The results? For certain products in special test markets, they found sales to be double that of markets without Vocalpoint!
One of the main potential detractors of the program is that P&G does not require its agents to disclose their affiliation with the marketer – leading some to believe that this could result in “the commercialization of human relations and the undercutting of social trust.”