Alternative Marketing - New Age Marketing Methods

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on February 21, 2013

In today’s era, traditional mass media advertising faces several challenges. Although many corporate leaders are not ready to abandon magazines, newspapers, and television, they also realize that consumers are increasingly becoming skilful at tuning out these venues. Even the Internet has started facing the problem of increasing clutter.


The two major components required for developing alternative media programs are – creativity and imagination. The objective is to discover new places where a consumer’s path intersects with a brand’s presence. The next step is to design a marketing message for those points. Some of the most common alternative media programs are:

  • Buzz marketing
  • Guerrilla marketing
  • Product placement and branded entertainment
  • Lifestyle marketing

The goal is to integrate them into one coherent program with a clear voice and message.

1. BUZZ MARKETING – Buzz marketing is also known as word-of-mouth marketing. It emphasizes consumers passing along information about a product. It can be generated in one of the following ways:

  1. Consumers who truly like a brand and tell others
  2. Sponsored consumers who like a brand and are sponsored by a company to tell others
  3. Company employees posing as customers of the company, telling others about the brand

The two major reasons for the working of Buzz marketing are:

  • A recommendation by another person carries higher level of credibility than does an advertisement
  • People like to give their opinions because the desire of social interaction and a concern about welfare of others is innate as human beings

One of the major issues with Buzz marketing is that some people consider using company insiders to be unethical. Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) states that the practise is dishonest and unethical, unless the person is upfront and clearly identifies him or herself as being with the company.

The point of importance which should be kept in mind while going for Buzz Marketing is that, research suggests that true customer-generated buzz occurs only after awareness of the product has developed and that awareness requires advertising through traditional channels.

2. GUERRILLA MARKETING – Guerrilla marketing programs are designed to obtain instant results while using limited resources. It relies on creativity, quality relationships, and the willingness to try unusual approaches.

Guerrilla marketing often involves interacting with consumers, not just sending out a message. The idea is to promote a one-to-one relationship with consumers through innovative, alternative means of branding. The six major reasons to use Guerrilla marketing are:

  • To interact with consumers
  • To find a new way to communicate with consumers
  • To impact a spot market
  • To build relationship with consumers
  • To create buzz
  • To make advertising accessible to consumers

As wrapping the female students’ dormitory in the shape of calendar and using Axe for a month throughout March, Axe aimed for the expression that a new female can be met on a daily basis, to promote the brand image and preference for Axe

Guerrilla marketing is reasonably different from traditional marketing. Traditional marketing requires money, whereas guerrilla marketing requires energy and imagination. Guerrilla marketing grows through existing customers and referrals which is quite different from traditional marketing which grows by adding customers.

Thus, the idea of Guerrilla marketing is simple- create excitement that will spread to others by word of mouth.

3. PRODUCT PLACEMENTS AND BRANDED ENTERTAINMENT – Product placement is defined as embedding a product or a brand in a planned manner into a movie, television show, and some other media program with the purpose of influencing viewers. In branded entertainment, the brand is woven into the storyline of the movie, television show, or other entertainment medium. The few of the examples of product placement in Indian market are:

  1. An instance of the song “IshqBina” from the movie “Taal” which had product placement for Coca Cola
  2. The super hit movie of 1995, “DilwaleDulhania Le Jayenge”, was a successful example of the launch of Stroh’s beer in India
  3. Another 2001 Bollywood movie, “Yaadein”, was an example of over-pushing of brands like “Coca-Cola” and “Pass Pass”

Product placements and branded entertainment work because there is no call to action. The primary motive is to increase brand awareness and liking. When a consumer sees a brand placement of a product that he or she has purchased, it may reinforce that idea that he had made a wise decision, further validating the original purchase decision. Also when a consumer’s favourite actor uses a particular brand or his/her favourite show contains a particular brand, it becomes more likely that those positive feelings will be transferred by the individual to the brand.

The only motivation for product placements and branded entertainment for moviemakers and television producers is money. Stroh’s beer paid Rs. 15 lakhs for a 15 second appearance in the film DilwaleDulhania Le Jayenge.

Thus to summarise, brand placements offer an excellent method to build brand awareness. Seeing the brand being used in a television show, a movie, or a book makes the brand look acceptable and even desirable.

4. LIFESTYLE MARKETING –Lifestyle marketing involves marketing methods associated with the hobbies and entertainment venues of the target audience. The most prominent example of lifestyle marketing is mall signs. A new trend in malls is to sell advertising space on malls. Also, free standing signs are placed strategically in various places within the mall. Another example could be escalator advertising. Escalators are found in airports, stores, malls and in other places. The most recent trend is placements of advertisements on the steps themselves. A person generally looks down to make sure he/she lands safely on the step. What better place for a rapid reminder about a product or service?

The global marketplace comprises of a complex set of competitors battling for customers in a dynamic environment. New companies are formed every day. Small businesses, internet-based businesses, and global conglomerates that have expanded through mergers and acquisitions are all part of this battle.

In the phase of these sophisticated and cluttered market conditions, firms try to be heard. This is where the above described alternative marketing programs will play a significant role in the near future. The leaders of the companies who would be able to leverage upon these alternative marketing programs will emerge as winners in this battlefield of customer acquisition.

This article has been authored by Hitesh Khatpalani from IIM Shillong

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