Marketing Mantra September Edition – Shortlisted entry #1 – Chand Ajmera

Viral Marketing in 2020

What drives the economy? Who will win the neck and neck race to grab the attention of customers? What does “Go Viral” exactly mean? Will the traditional methods of advertising become obsolete? What will be the implications due to the rise of Generation C? Who will act as drivers of change?

Seth Godin, in his book “IdeaViruses”, cited that first 100 years of history focused on who can build the biggest farm, second century concentrated on the fight to own the largest and most efficient factories. Well, the third century is all about ideas. Ideas will rule the world. People are more connected than before. Technology is augmenting and extending our own capabilities. Ideas will travel at the speed of zero. Everything from presidential elections to fashion to entertainment is driven by fads—and success belongs to marketers who will willingly accept the change. One thing is clear: if people embrace your ideas and spread the same across the community, you win.

We still remember how YouTube changed our way of watching videos. More and more marketers promoted products, services and ideas through quirky videos which surprised us, moved us or shocked us and led us to share the same with our friends, relatives and colleagues. The Viral Marketing became a hit and an effective and cheaper tactic to connect to the consumers.

The recent ALS Ice bucket challenge (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is one such campaign gone viral. The awareness it has created about ALS disease has been spectacular. The ALS Association saw a ten-fold increase in donations. Similarly, Zomato’s content Marketing Strategy has gone viral across social media platforms. How about the Alia Bhatt – Genius of the Year video created by AIB? Right before the London Olympics, P&G released an ad praising mothers worldwide, and it’s a complete tearjerker. How can we forget Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign which has touched the hearts of millions of women all across the world? It has widened the definition of the beauty. What explains the success of these viral campaigns?


Every company was bold and always on its toes to keep experimenting. Things do go wrong but without trying, it is not going to work. Stories which can be retold umpteen numbers of times were woven. New and innovative ways for capturing the attention and building rapport with the people were being churned out. But the big question in everyone’s’ mind is what will be the future of Viral Marketing?

By the year 2020, an entire Generation C – the realists, the materialists, the politically progressive, the upwardly mobile will rise. They would have grown up in a primarily digital world. They will be connected, communicating, content-centric, community-oriented and always clicking. This generation will transform the way we work. Social technologies will drive the new forms of production and value creation. Diversity and adaptability will be at the centre of operations. The Internet will become boundary less cloud with no external controls. “Digital information osmosis” (data deluge) will be faced in a true sense. Consumers will be hungry for new ideas.  Privacy concerns will dwindle and services and data will exist in the cloud. Research done by PwC on digitization says that “The average person in 2020 will live in a web of 200 to 300 contacts, maintained daily through a variety of channels”.

The challenge for the companies and industries will be to abandon the traditional models and embrace the change in order to thrive in the environment. The easy availability of consumers’ data will lead them to target their campaigns and new ideas to the specific desired customer segment. E-Influentials will be ruling the world with more and more advertisers resorting to them to make their campaigns go viral.  “Essence is not lost in the volume” will be highly taken care of.

Integrity, Innovation, Understanding the culture, Connect, strong Execution and the knack to weave a story (idea and concept) will be at the heart of Viral Marketing. The Valve campaign wherein the company had provided the fans to decide the release date of an upcoming title was not able to deliver in the end, which shows that execution is one of the keys to success. Dynamism (reinforcing the desired communication by bringing about constant change) will play a very important role in the success of the campaign.

Less is more may be the new strategy followed by most of the advertisers. Minimal text print ad is the current fad. The gaudy cluttered print ads are now passé. If you do not follow the fad, then you will be left behind in the race. Moreover, advertisers will not only be concerned about the reach and frequency, they would concentrate on how their campaigns are spreading.

Performance based Viral Marketing will be the next big thing. As browser-based applications assimilate with networking applications like Twitter, Facebook and more, viral campaigns will be delivered via cross-application messaging. Moreover, it would make the possibility of watching and optimize message per user and watching communities discuss around your content come true. The 2020 Marketing department will centre on pillars like data, technology, content and channels instead of product marketing, demand generation, communications, etc. Viral Marketing will be the leader, but it must be managed appropriately to be effective. Seth Godin’s IdeaViruses which combines viral marketing with Word of Mouth publicity and forces the customers to spread awareness about the product simply by using it will flow through the veins of advertisers.

2020 will be a different world indeed. It will be binding upon the companies to profit from the technological, cultural and social changes that will take place.




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