March 16, 2010

Social Media brings down the Maytag brand

Maytag Repair Man

We’ve mentioned here before that women comprise 51 percent of the population and control at least 85 percent of consumer purchasing power. Couple that with statistics from BlogHer that 42 million women in the United States (roughly 53 percent of the 79 million adult women in the United States who use the Internet) participate in social media at least weekly. These online women are spending less time with traditional media like television, newspapers and magazines.

According to the “Annual Social Media Study” conducted by SheSpeaks, a community of women who share opinions online, 72 percent of female Internet users had learned about a new product or brand online and 50 percent had purchased a product because of a social network.

Those are significant numbers. So it behooves brands to think about this audience, not just when marketing online, but offline too. That’s because women are turning to social media to share their experiences of brands too.

Consider mommy-blogging celebrity Dooce, named one of the top 30 most influential women in media by Forbes magazine along with Oprah Winfrey, Diane Sawyer and others. Dooce, or Heather Armstrong, has 1,622,591 followers on Twitter. Last year, her new Maytag washer broke down and the repairmen showed up with the wrong parts. Calls to the customer service line weren’t helping so Armstrong vented on Twitter. Her Tweets included all cap comments like, “DO NOT EVER BUY A MAYTAG.” Maytag responded and Armstrong got service but not before the brand name was dragged though a wild online frenzy that certainly didn’t support its brand position, “Better Built.”

Popular pain reliever Motrin, experienced some online pain of their own, when an ad they ran about babyslings angered women who felt it was condescending and insulting. And most recently, Apple launched the $499 iPad only to see the Internet explode with iTampon analogies across twitter, YouTube and the blogosphere.

Marketers must consider women in their branding efforts. And they need to remember, that their offline branding efforts, WILL be discussed online by this influential, powerful group.

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