Tag Archives: Facebook

Article Review: Marketing “Green” Products and Being a Good Corporate Citizen

This is a homework assignment for my Marketing 5000 class at Webster University. It has not been graded yet.

Carolyn Hasenfratz Winkelmann

Dr. John Jinkner

MRKT-5000: Marketing

6 April 2020

Article Review #1: – E-Marketing, Digital Media and Social Networking

Name of the Article:  “How Social Media Communications Combine with Customer Loyalty Management to Boost Green Retail Sales”

Source:  Journal of Interactive Marketing

URL:  http://dx.doi.org.library3.webster.edu/10.1016/j.intmar.2018.12.005

Article Summary

Authors Lu and Miller examined how loyalty rewards programs (LRP) combined with customer relationship management (CRM) and social media campaigns could increase sales of “green” products in a retail setting.  Concentrating on grocers who sell foods that are marketed as organic, healthy and sustainable, the article explains that while the demand for “green” foods is growing, there are barriers to the acceptance of these products among some consumers (Lu and Miller, 87-88).  Some potential customers hold the perception that environmentally sustainable foods are too expensive, aren’t adequate substitutes for conventional products and are not worth the extra cost.  With additional knowledge about the value of such products, some consumers can be persuaded to give them a chance and be converted to motivated buyers (Lu and Miller, 88).

Because Facebook was the most dominant social media platform in the world at the time of the study, the authors used it to examine the relationship between Facebook content and sales among “green” grocery retailers in a large city in Australia.  Facebook is a platform that marketers can use to practice social customer relationship management (SCRM), an updated form of customer relationship management (CRM) that adds social media into the marketing mix (Lu and Miller, 89).  Intuition and previous studies showed the authors that effective content on Facebook should increase sales.  Their study focused on participants in loyalty rewards programs which are proven to increase profitability if used effectively (Lu and Miller, 90).

Social media gives consumers more control over marketing because they can create and share content rather than just consuming content that is pushed to them by the brand (Lu and Miller, 89).  Both brand-generated and consumer-generated content can increase the level of interest and engagement with a brand, which has a positive influence on actual shopping activity (Lu and Miller, 89, 91).  “Green” products do often require more knowledge on the part of the consumer to realize the value and to stimulate a purchase (Lu and Miller, 91).  Many “green” consumers organize themselves into social media-based communities that share common values and exchange information (Lu and Miller, 91).  Consumers need to be motivated to effectively consume information presented by a brand (Lu and Miller, 92).  It makes sense to leverage the power of social media along with the heightened brand engagement exhibited by long-term loyalty reward program participants (Lu and Miller, 92) to increase the acceptance of environmentally responsible products.  Lu and Miller found that thoughtful SCRM strategies did increase the sales of “green” products to long-term LRP members (Lu and Miller, 97) and that these loyal customers responded more to messages about the health benefits of sustainable products than they did about the environmental benefits or the price (Lu and Miller, 98).

How this Article Relates to our Course

In Chapter 1 of our textbook, “Marketing”, we are reminded that environmental factors that influence marketing can change quickly (Pride and Ferrell, 13).  As we are now suddenly dealing with a global health issue that has severe effects on many aspects of life, one way consumer needs have changed rapidly is that we need supplies to protect ourselves from infection.  Health, physical and mental, is at the top of nearly everyone’s concerns right now.  I work in a store that has a loyalty rewards program, engages in social media marketing, and sells some environmentally conscious products, considerations which made the article I reviewed of particular interest.  We also sell supplies, some in stock intermittently, that customers want and need to cope with the pandemic.  I’m observing and participating in real time how to change course rapidly as we respond to consumer demand as well as reading about it in our textbook.

Perhaps some might assume that such an event in history is a time for mere coping, not marketing.  Marketing concept is a philosophy that an organization adopts when it takes into account not only the needs of customers but the welfare of all the stakeholders that it has an effect upon (Pride and Ferrell, 13-14).  Customers of the store are stakeholders, as well as are owners, employees, vendors, service providers, delivery people, the families of all those groups and the community as a whole. Profiting by satisfying customer demand at the expense of other stakeholders was already frowned upon by many as a business practice before the current challenges we are facing (Pride and Ferrell, 14).  Brand managers would be wise to be wary of being perceived as exploiting a crisis.  For example, businesses that inflate the prices of crucial items or make false claims about the usefulness of products have been reported by name in an article published by the St. Louis Post Dispatch (Stewart).

The article I reviewed is enlightening when considering how marketing concept applies to serving the community in the present time.  Since long-term loyalty rewards program customers are the most profitable customer category for a retailer (Lu and Miller, 92), it is less than rational to reap short-term gains at the risk of offending long-term loyal customers with behavior that is not community-minded.  I hypothesize that a brand that already takes into account all stakeholders and has effectively imbued its organization with the philosophy behind its marketing concept is at low risk for carelessly implementing an action that will backfire because the first instincts of individuals within the organization will be to serve rather than exploit.  Now is not a time to cease marketing but to use actions as marketing while serving all stakeholders with a view to their long-term health and welfare, fiscal and otherwise.

Works Cited

Lu, Qiang Steven, and Rohan Miller. “How Social Media Communications Combine with Customer Loyalty Management to Boost Green Retail Sales.” Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 46, May 2019, pp. 87–100. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.intmar.2018.12.005. Accessed 06 April 2020.

Pride, William M. and O.C. Ferrell. Marketing. 2018 Edition. CENGAGE Learning, 2016, 2018.

Stewart, Tynan. “Overpriced toilet paper, $12 masks: Missourians complain about coronavirus price-gouging.” Stltoday.com, 2020, www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/overpriced-toilet-paper-12-masks-missourians-complain-about-coronavirus-price-gouging/article_4bedcd86-c828-5be2-9f03-c3e010ef820c.html. Accessed 6 April 2020.

Media Literacy and Interpreting Political Messages

In Mass Communication class this past fall, I wrote about the following propaganda techniques in my paper “How do we decide which media sources we can trust?” – Name Calling, Glittering Generalities, Transfer, Testimonial, Plain Folks, Card Stacking, Band Wagon, Impersonation, Emotion, Polarization, Conspiracy, Discredit and Trolling. I found some really interesting information about trolling that I saved in the extra links section below my paper for further study later. Recently in Media and Culture class, we watched a 60 Minutes video report titled “Brain Hacking” which inspired me to do a little experiment on social media the next day.

I saw a meme shared by a friend on Facebook that contained a false but somewhat plausible sounding claim about current political events. I shared it in my Facebook feed, which is public because I use it for marketing as well as other purposes, to see what kind of reaction I would get. I and others made some comments below it that I plan to investigate more and write up in a more polished way later. For now, one of the most important things I observed was that the meme drew comments from people I’ve been Facebook friends with for years (and friends in real life in some cases) who never respond to my more typical, much higher quality content. I can speculate on many reasons why this was so, some of which I may be able to prove and some I may not. One thing I can definitively assert however is the effect of the trolling on this blog, a separate channel from Facebook but with lots of cross-links back and forth. I posted the trolling meme on November 20, 2019 and here is a screenshot I took this morning of my blog stats.

blog traffic increased by trolling
Yes I’m a graphic designer and I could have easily faked this graphic – but I give you my word that I didn’t, for what it’s worth!

With more research I hope to understand more about how trolling works, but I think it’s pretty clear why so many people do it – it gets attention!

In my current Media and Culture class, one of our recent assignments was to find and analyze examples of a successful political ad and and unsuccessful political ad. I found something really great – a successful political ad about political ads, very interesting for that reason alone, which was also a Facebook trolling experiment perpetrated by a presidential campaign.

A political ad that comments on advertising and is also a trolling test.

Even though “trolling” is a word with negative connotations, I think this is a very successful example and in a way could be considered “good” propaganda as I consider my own trolling test to be. In both cases we tried to be somewhat ethical while trolling by eventually coming clean about what we were doing in order to raise awareness. Regardless of which candidate one supports, I think all can benefit from seeing and analyzing the Warren ad. In order to truly be able to interpret media messages it is a good media literacy skill to be aware of the ad policy on the channel on which you are viewing the content. It’s a hot topic right now in the news as channels scramble to modify their ad policies to bring about the election results they want, appease users who fear “fake news” and trolls, and still get a slice of that fat advertising pie (according to Bloomberg over a billion in 2016 just for the dominant presidential candidates).

The original Warren ad led off with a shocking statement to get attention. After explaining the purpose of lying in the ad, the copy then makes accusations that would take research to prove or disprove which I’m not going to attempt here, but would probably be believed or dismissed by many depending on how the audience has been primed. The photo of Trump and Zuckerberg shaking hands will likely get an emotional reaction out of a lot of people. Even though a handshake is a standard beginning and end to a business meeting, the photo suggests they are partners. I don’t know if the photo was purposely chosen to show eye contact between Mr. Zuckerberg and President Trump with the President appearing to be speaking and Mr. Zuckerberg listening, but it could be interpreted as trying to show the smaller, slighter, younger Zuckerberg as being under Trump’s thrall.

Was the Warren ad effective? When I did research trying to find information about this ad, I learned that it inspired commentary and articles on NPR, CNET, CNBC, The New York Times and others. The media coverage I’m sure is something the campaign wants since their stated goal is to raise awareness of Facebook’s current advertising policy. Based on a quick glance at Warren’s Twitter feed, the amount of likes and shares this ad instigated was a very good result compared to normal results. The call to action at the end is a common feature of many good ads – it lets viewers do something right away if they are so moved.

There is a Facebook Ad Library that allows you to view current and past ads, even ones you were not otherwise shown because you were not the target audience. It’s interesting to see what each campaign is running! Also if you do searches about a candidate (for example “Donald Trump”) vs. those that are paid for by the Candidate’s own committee (for example ” Trump Make America Great Again Committee”), you can get very different results. Try it!

The photo in the troll ad reminds me of the Webster University Journal article we discussed toward the beginning of the class about Senator Josh Hawley and the Confucius Institute. A lot of photos could have been chosen to use in that article. It’s interesting that most of the other articles I found have photos of activities at Confucius Institutes, Chinese people or Chinese culture, or some kind of protest. But the Journal article has a photo that could be considered kind of loaded, especially when you consider it in conjunction with the article’s contents. Why do you think a photo from Cape Girardeau was chosen instead of one from the St. Louis area when Webster University and the Confucius Institute it hosts are in St. Louis County? Sometimes certain photos are chosen because they are available. Sometimes certain photos are chosen because they convey a latent message. Do you think there are latent messages in these two photos?

political photo choice in an ad and in an article
Photo from the Warren ad on the left, photo from the Webster University Journal on the right. What messages might be sent based on Scale? On Relative Position? Anything else?

After reading my paper “Production Elements and Messages in The Television Series The Crown what do you think of the above two photos? Still photos and motion pictures use a lot of the same production elements. Following are some more questions I would ask the writer, editor and publisher of the Journal if I could.

Why was there no mention made that there was a Senate hearing on the issue with a member of the FBI giving testimony about why the agency was concerned?

Why was no mention made of other politicians from both major parties writing similar letters to colleges in their states? Some of the other Universities’ actions were mentioned, but not what prompted them. Why is that?

Why was no mention made of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs report? The excerpt below is from page 21:

“Over the last several years, members of Congress, U.S. government officials, and academics have raised a number of concerns about Confucius Institutes, including about academic freedom, contractual agreements, transparency, hiring practices, and self-censorship. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Foreign Relations Committees all held broad hearings that discussed China at which Senators heard from experts on U.S.-China relations, academic freedom advocates, and law enforcement officials. Additionally, members of Congress from several states issued public letters to U.S. schools with Confucius Institutes urging them to reconsider their arrangement with Hanban.”

I am very much in favor of cultural exchange and the learning languages of other cultures. I think the more we and other nations understand each other the better off we will all be. I don’t know whether the Webster University Chancellor made the right decision or not because I don’t know enough about the legal and financial arrangements to judge. I could not detect anything false in the Webster Journal article, but on the other hand I don’t think there was enough information in it to understand the actual issue. I am pretty sure I know what the Journal wanted me to think about it though. I think my analysis is an example of how we have to read all news stories to be informed and not just manipulated.

To see what I used as sources in analyzing the Journal article I put a link to the Journal article and other interesting articles on the topic I found, plus a link to the Senate report on this Confucius Institutes on College Campuses Pinterest board.