You’re probably missing this huge word of mouth marketing opportunity

By Ted Wright August 5, 2019

word of mouth marketing opportunity

By Ted Wright

In Mark Schaefer’s excellent book Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins, he profiles the workout gear company Lululemon and documents how the retailer has turned their brick and mortar stores into a living world of mouth marketing opportunity.

Lululemon has exploded on the scene and bucked almost every retail trend. They routinely sell out of merchandise with almost no sale prices. Much of this success is generated from the fact that they are building work of mouth marketing into their workspace. For example, the company:

  • Organizes the work day so no shelf-stocking or admin work takes place while customers are in the store. Employees are fully present and available for conversations.
  • Organizes the store physical space to encourage conversations.
  • Hires employees who are passionate about fitness and eager to talk about the company products. Employees wear Lululemon workout gear on the sales floor.
  • Open their spaces to community classes at night, inviting potentially new customers into their stores and conversations.
  • Identifies community thought leaders in the fitness space like runners, trainers, and yoga instructors and encourages them to hang out in the store for workshops and exclusive events.

While the Lululemon success might seem extraordinary, research shows it’s entirely predictable …

The brick and mortar opportunity

America’s physical, brick-and-mortar retail stores are extremely social places and provide marketers with myriad social marketing opportunities.

According to data from Engagement Labs, nearly 900 million times every week somebody in America is in a conversation about brands while in a store. That’s more than three times per week for every American adult and these in-store conversations can be pivotal in helping consumers decide which brand they pull off retail shelves, given their proximity to the actual purchase decision.

While private homes are the overwhelmingly dominant location of consumer conversations, at 69 percent of the total, over 6 percent of all such conversations happen in stores, nearly as many conversations that happen at work (8 percent).

While brick and mortar is dying at malls, there is an opportunity to revive these establishments as social hubs that lead to conversations and sales.

Word of mouth marketing opportunity by category

Engagement Labs has shown that the value of in-store conversations is much greater for those categories that tend to be purchased in physical retail stores.

Just four categories account for more than half of all in-store conversations:

  1. retail/apparel (17 percent)
  2. beverages (14 percent)
  3. food/dining (12 percent)
  4. beauty (11 percent)

Household and children’s products also stand out as getting much more attention in-store rather than elsewhere.

In my experience, there are almost no retail establishments even thinking about the word of mouth marketing opportunity in the store environment. If this is your market, talk to us to help you make the word of mouth marketing happen.


Ted Wright is the founder of Fizz, the world’s leading word of mouth marketing (WOMM) agency. Ted is also an acclaimed WOMM keynote speaker and the author of Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth.

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