Marketing Mantra September Edition – Shortlisted Entry #7 – Prama

Viral Marketing in 2020

“Suraj mujhe woh haseen dard dedo, jise aaj ke baad main kisi doosre ke sath na baant sakun…!” “Dum Laga ke move it. Zor laga k do it, do it” “Girls do it. So do boys…”The dialogue came out in 1998, but how many of us heard it then! As opposed to how many of us heard it in the last one month courtesy Pretentious Movie Review! 474506 atleast. Why? Coz, it went Viral!

Viral Marketing is based on the popularization of the notion that ideas spread like viruses. Creating successful Viral Marketing programs is to create viral messages that appeal to individuals with high SNP (explained later) and that has a high probability of being spread by these individuals in their communications with others in a short period of time. If a Viral Campaign is executed successfully, it can generate a huge amount of excitement for a brand and convert many consumers with minimal financial outlay. However, it relies on the campaign touching a social nerve, which is never guaranteed.

So. What exactly is the future of this Virus?

Many Ad Gurus quote Viral Marketing as the next big thing, the future of marketing, blah blah…. Let’s not blindly be a disciple, but critically analyse the future of Viral Marketing. Here we follow two approaches-Factor Method and Extrapolation

A. Factor Method:

We separate out the different factors that might make or break Viral Marketing. Then, we predict the growth/decline of the factor over time. The idea is that the rise of the positive factors will have an accentuating effect and the rise of the negative factors will have a hindering effect. Finally we see the overall effect based on the comparative rise of the Accentuating or Hindering Factors.

Accentuating Factors

1. Cost efficient: Uploading videos is free as compared to buying television space

2. Target masses with greater reach: Internet is a worldwide market. The Ikea campaign began in Sweden and was shared throughout the globe, same with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

3. Greater frequency: It is shared through social media with repetitive views and clicks. Greater frequency creates a lasting message

4. Interactivity: Allows for consumer feedback as well as consumer participation in promotion and consequently meaningful involvement. Old Spice responded directly to individual tweets/emails with a personalized video featuring the Old Spice Man. Also the Ice Bucket Challenge-Why did it go Viral? “It’s totally own-able, unique, iconic and simple,” said Max Lenderman, CEO of the Agency School. “It’s so personal because of the calling-out aspect.”

5. Accessibility:  Ease of sharing information is becoming more intuitive by the day through smartphones, tablets and other PDAs

6. Rising SNP: Social networking potential (SNP) is a numeric coefficient, derived to represent both the size of an individual’s social network and their ability to influence that network

Hindering Factors:

1. Nuisance Factor: Marketers are competing with other people who are using the same structure and run the risk of having their message lost among others. It creates so much Internet noise that people get unfocused and delete/ignore messages.

2. Negative Buzz: If a few people start posting negative information about a particular venture on blogs and message boards, others will hardly take the time to investigate whether this negative buzz is warranted and simply pass it on as juicy gossip

3. Ethical Considerations: Many people want to know what the companies are planning on doing with their personal information and may not be interested in participating in a campaign if they think they are providing fodder for spam marketers. Even with tons of privacy policies, there will be some recipients who feel that viral marketing is a sleazy practice.

4. Hard to Measure: Unless the campaign is being handled by experienced individuals, it can be very difficult to determine whether it is worthwhile.

Accentuating factor


Hindering Factor


Cost efficient


Nuisance Factor


Greater reach


Negative Buzz


Greater Frequency


Ethical Factor




Hard to Measure




Greater SNP


As we see, the Accentuating and Hindering, both factors are mostly to rise in the coming years. So, while there will be a steep growth in Viral Marketing, but, the hindering factors won’t let it go beyond the roof and keep it to a tolerable level.

B. Extrapolation (Historical Method):

The Basis of this method is simply assuming that History repeats itself. 2020 is 6 years away from now, so if 12 years doesn’t involve a change in generation, then the progress of viral marketing from 2008 to 2014 can be taken as a rough estimate of the position of Viral Marketing in 2020 from its standpoint in 2014. Compared to the low penetration of Social Networking in 2008, it has become a basic necessity to a major chunk of the population.

So, if anything can be predicted from History, Viral Marketing is bound to get Viral in 2020!

Closing words:

Other than the two analyses, there might be some other factors that are going to influence the future of Viral Marketing

1. Government Regulations: Condom Brand Durex is planning to resort completely to Viral (read cost-free) marketing as its price had to be cut down from 14 to 8 due to Gov. Of India’s upper cap on Condom prices at Rs. 8.04

2. Specific Events: Certain events like Olympics, Fifa World Cup temporarily pushes a lot of Brands to go Online

3. Type of Products: Certain companies cater to a segment of population not likely to become tech-savvy soon

4. Overcrowding: Too much Internet Noise might make lot of companies stay away from the herd

5. Image: Certain companies might stay away from this massy style as it will tarnish their premium image


So, Viral Marketing in 2020 can go down two highly likely paths

(i) Go Viral! Be the future of marketing

(ii) Grow but gradually become stagnant due to overcrowding and temporary rise and fall nature of Viral Marketing

Predicting with absolute certainty will only result in the scripting of a “Love Story 2050” in 2008! So, let time lead us on.

This entry was posted in Student's Corner. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply