CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant, is adopting various tools to drive word of mouth about its beauty brands.

Speaking with eMarketer, Chris Laird, ceo of Tremor, a word of mouth marketing organisation developed by P&G, argued this long-standing currency remains vital in the beauty sector.

"We find that recommendations from 'people you know' are extremely important in the beauty and health business," he said.

"These advocates turn other consumers into advocates. They also help establish and cultivate a relationship with brands that are engaged in the conversation."

However, while peer-to-peer interaction is still the bedrock of success, the advent of blogs and Web 2.0 platforms has served to alter the contours by which such dialogue now take place.

"It's simply an extension of traditional word of mouth," said Laird. "The difference is how quickly and broadly the messages are transmitted."

"Integrated properly, deploying a human interface with digital networking can amplify your advocacy programs … Offline and online need to work together."

In recognition of these trends, Procter & Gamble founded Vocalpoint, a web community boasting a user base of over 500,000 "highly engaged" women, or what it calls "connectors".

Alongside gaining valuable insights from a key demographic, many of which are respected bloggers, P&G can ask members of this group to champion its brands among their own networks.

"Bloggers amplify the messages more quickly and to a broader audience. Just because you blog, doesn't mean you're an influencer. You have to develop a relationship of trust with your network," Laird said.

One recent campaign leveraging the Vocalpoint population in such a way was for Secret Clinical Strength deodorant, carrying the tagline "The more you move, the better you smell."

Having first forged the core idea through discussions with consumers, this effort was then rolled out to Vocalpoint, Twitter and Facebook, and encompassing more than 40 touchpoints in all.

"Offline, 100,000 Vocalpoint women opted-in to receive a mailer with a Secret Clinical Strength sample and coupons," said Laird.

"Online, 500,000 Vocalpoint women received weekly newsletter communications."

Some 50,000 reviews were ultimately written about Secret Clinical Strength, which scored an average 4.1 points out of five in terms of effectiveness and the likelihood of recommending it to a friend.

An additional 42,000 clickthroughs were generated from Facebook, Twitter and blogs for an opt-in coupon scheme, where redemption rates doubled the norm for Secret Clinical Strength.

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff