Sustaining post-consumption Curiosity to fuel Word of mouth

Marketers have recognized Word of mouth (WOM) as the most effective form of promotion. Most trustable sources of WOM are friends, family and peer groups. +WOM spreads even faster when curiosity is kindled in the minds of direct consumers and influencers. Marketers can adopt various methods to create curiosity. Puzzle and riddle, games with an element of surprise or teasers are common forms of pre-consumption curiosity tools used by marketers. It isn’t always about the answer to the riddle, but the adventure and thinking to know what would be the answer. For example when the Rubik’s cube was first released, people were curious on how to solve it and sales of the cube was sky rocketing and it was even talked about in the daily news. Many ads end with the quote saying “What would happen next?” these ads have always been the most popular ones as people discuss and talk about it more.
The element of surprise can be created by marketers in a product to sell it easily. This is specially done by using surprise gifts at the time of using a product. Example of one such famous product is Lays with Tazos inside the packet made kids buy the chips regularly in order to have the full collection. Anticipation is also a key factor for creating curiosity, but the kill switch in this is the level of anticipation the marketers tries to create. A prolonged waiting time can become a curse for the marketers. Longer the waiting time, confirmation-disconfirmation gaps can be longer. Hence marketers should select an appropriate waiting time and also fulfill the necessary level of expectation of the consumer accordingly.
While it is very easy to create pre-consumption curiosity, creating and sustaining curiosity after actual consumption and experiencing of the product/service, is rather a daunting task. Ambiguity in closure promoting personalization and personalized interpretations is what some products and services naturally enable to sustain post-consumption curiosity. Best example is the movie that allows multiple interpretations of its ending. Examples of such movies are the Inception, the Shutter Island, and Memento etc. These movies had a very large fan following and people kept talking about the ambiguous ending both online and offline which drew more audience.
Accordingly there are five mantras to sustain post consumption curiosity to fuel word of mouth. Firstly to keep Story line broad enough for multiple interpretations. Secondly be Flexible enough for personalization. Third to promote co-creation and outsources promotion. Fourthly, ensure enough room for anticipation even with the various variants. Lastly have no restrictions on extension by an individual. For example Silent Hill a game created by Konami features customization of the character the user is going to play as, and has multiple endings to the game according to the choices the user takes during the game play. This became one of the most universally popular games. The five principles can also be applied to create the next best seller book or Oscar winning movie (remember the pun filled Mr. Bean holidays…where everybody goes with a handy cam) or interactive movie experiences.

Kaarthik Shakthi R
Junior consulting-Marketing

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