Like most, CIC has seen a busy summer so far. June was a particularly busy month with the release of two white papers and our IWOM dashboard.
Our first white paper is on the impact of IWOM on the purchase decision. Here we make use of traditional research to better understand the users and attitudes behind the IWOM phenomenon. Also, we propose how IWOM has altered the purchase decision process as viewed by traditional market researchers. I think such ‘serious’ research demonstrates CIC’s commitment to being the most professional IWOM research and consulting firm in China. We don’t just throw out a bunch of numbers about buzz, but really seek to understand what drives IWOM and IWOM’s impact in this unique China environment and build services on top of this understanding.
Building on white paper, at the end of June, Roland Berger released a white paper on the Chinese consumer. What I like about this collaboration is that it places IWOM at what I consider to be an appropriate context: strategic intelligence for the highest levels of planning. Roland Berger is one of the top management consulting firms in the world and their inclusion of CIC’s intelligence, along with insights from their own powerful research and thoughts from Beijing Benz Daimler-Chrysler (BBDC) President and CEO Günter Butschek and L’Oreal China CEO Paolo Gasparrini, demonstrates that IWOM can and should be viewed as lifeblood for strategic planning. IWOM of course provides insight into digital marketing, but it should not be limited to digital. IWOM is in fact many things at once: IWOM is consumer opinion, is an extremely dynamic, influential and trusted media and is an environment for communicating with consumers. Its impact and implications extend beyond just ‘social media’ or ‘IWOM’. In the Roland Berger white paper, as well as in our article in Ad Age China, we see how IWOM can impact not only the consumer purchase decision, but actually the purchase process with the group purchase (tuangou) phenomenon. How can Ford or others handle the challenges of becoming not only a ‘social media savvy’ organization to becoming a ‘social organization’? It is worth watching Dachis Group on this topic, for as we can see from this post from David Armano, the social organization is clearly on their radar.
June also saw the release of our dashboard, a first step to opening up the ‘IWOM-ized’ technology we have been using internally for almost 5 years. Early feedback from our clients has been quite positive…a very powerful tool that puts 10’s of millions of consumer comments about the client category at their finger tips.
In the end, however, I agree with Peter Kim, former Forrester analyst familiar with the ‘listening platform’ space and current Dachis analyst, who observes that for IWOM analytics, having great technology is “necessary, but not sufficient” to make sense of the buzz:
Products do not deliver the insights marketers need to inform decisions. To fully understand the impact of the ever-changing social landscape, marketers need vendors to offer comprehensive consulting services….The best consulting organizations will be able to help marketers apply the insights generated from the platform to specific programs and projects across multiple channels.
Dashboard products deliver “content.” Without quality data, localized text mining, for example, a dashboard will be of little use. Even in the best case, a dashboard can only take you so far. We see that research and consulting provides the ‘context’ and ‘implication’ necessary that is so important for strategy planning. This ‘content, context and implication’ is at the core of our “Listen-Know-Participate” frame work for IWOM which we first presented over two years ago. It was true then, and true now, especially in light of the increasingly complex and nuanced IWOM and internet environment that our two white papers touch upon.