Research by the Keller Fay Group team indicates that the year-over-year decline in U.S. carbonated soft drink sales follows decreases in the quantity of Word Of Mouth (WOM) for all but one of the top ten brands. This is especially true for no-calorie/diet brands such as Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi. According to TalkTrack®, the award-winning Keller Fay WOM tracking study, WOM about carbonated soft drinks has declined annually from 2011 to the present. The one outlier brand? Fanta, with growth across both WOM and sales.
Several years ago, our agency designed and executed a WOM + Experiential + WOM program for Coke Zero. Our program, "Coke Zero – It's Possible," generated significant positive results for Coke Zero and even won a global WOMMY Award for the brand, our agency and measurement partner ChatThreads (now Purchased).
I reviewed the key learning from that project and rediscovered several points that help support the connection between WOM & CSD sales:
For those who had not already tried Coke Zero, participation in "It's Possible" drove significant increases in "likelihood to recommend" (aka Word of Mouth)…along with similar results on other KPIs.
Even those who had already tried Coke Zero reported meaningful increases in "likelihood to recommend" and other KPIs due to their participation in "It's Possible."
The top two WOM conversation themes were "Tastes like Coke" and "No calories," almost a mirror image of the "Great Coke Taste, Zero Calories" brand tagline.
There was a statistically significant correlation (r=0.77, for you quant jocks out there) between the number of "It's Possible" engagements and Coke Zero WOM conversations amongst the general population in activated markets. No other single IMC lever came close to this level of correlation with the #1 driver of changes in consumer attitude and action: WOM.
Brands that want to grow over time need to invest time and money in programs that leverage WOM as an input (involve them in your planning process) in order to increase the quantity and quality of WOM as an output of the effort.
Don't think that Social Media = WOM. While it is important, Social Media is not 100% of WOM about your brand or program. For most brands in Keller Fay TalkTrack®, Social Media delivers approximately 5% of all WOM about a given brand. You need to listen to, and understand, the entire WOM universe.