Does brand loyalty come from family word of mouth?

During nearly 20 years of marriage I think on two or three occasions my wife and I have discussed the laundry detergent that she uses. As a pragmatist, I have often come across less expensive generic detergents, which she refuses to use. I can’t even get her to try anything else, even once! She is a die-hard Tide detergent user and she would never ever consider changing brands. Upon closer investigation I discovered that she inherited that brand loyalty from her mother. I don’t exactly know how, but there is no denying that her mother’s recommendation is stronger than any suggestion that I can ever make. I need to find out if my wife’s 7 sisters also have the same brand loyalties. That would be an interesting question.

My company, FamilyLink.com hopes to become the leading developer of social networking applications for families and for genealogists. My background is in subscription marketing. I co-founded Ancestry.com in 1996 and it approached 1 million subscribers in the next 10 years to its massive genealogy database library. And now WorldVitalRecords.com has passed 25,000 subscribers and our rate of growth is increasing.

But as everyone knows, most social networking sites are free (Ryze.com was an exception, and it claimed to be the first profitable social network, back in like 2003) and rely on advertising revenue to grow. In order to generate advertising revenue from our family apps and widgets, and from our own social network (which have attracted more than 2.3 million users in the past 4 months), it will be useful to understand what brands and products are used based on family recommendations.

So yesterday, we asked some of our customers what brands they are loyal to because of their mother. Here are the top 28 responses:

1. Tide
2. Ivory
3. Clorox
4. Campbell’s
5. Crisco
6. Dove
7. Crest
8. Kraft
9. Comet
10. Quaker
11. Hellman’s
12. Dial
13. Palmolive
14. Colgate
15. Arm and Hammer
16. Heinz
17. Gold Medal (flour)
18. Dawn (dish soap)
19. Oil of Olay
20. Folgers
21. All (laundry detergent)
22. Wisk
23. Kleenex
24. Windex
25. Jello
26. Clabber Girl
27. Cascade
28. Ajax

Tide actually had more than twice as many responses as the next highest, Ivory. So the brand marketers there must have been doing something terribly right all these years.

I heard a projection at CES that 1.2 billion people will be using social networks by 2012. And since so many people try or buy products and services based on word of mouth recommendations, and since we hope to have tens of millions of families using our applications, we will invest a lot of time and energy into understanding how viral marketing (or what we called “genetic marketing” back at MyFamily.com) works within families–both within nuclear families as well as extended families.

I need to make it clear that our survey was not scientific. We got about 1,000 responses in a day. But with our reach growing larger every month, we will use surveys and quizzes to become experts on family word of mouth.

If any of the brand managers of the brands listed above (or any other major brands) want us to do some research for them and discover the genetic marketing quotient for their product, we’d be happy to work something out. We have a Facebook audience of ~2.3 million users and a genealogy audience of more than 500,000 monthly visitors.

5 Comments

  1. Paul,
    That is a great experiement! I wonder if you’d like to try another one. Does your blog readership loyalty extend to your family members? 🙂

    I’d love their comments on my blog as you are definitely my favorite brother! 🙂

    Heidi

  2. Nathan Mathews

    Paul,

    I took a marketing class and our teacher had been a brand manager for Procter and Gamble the maker of Tide, he told us that Sun Brand detergent also made by P&G was the exact same detergent . . . try that one on your wife and see what she says?

  3. Does brand loyalty come from family word of mouth? | Cleanin

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  4. Matt

    I would have to say that Tide Windex Heinz cascade would be the things that have really stuck with me. but for the most part i’ve realize i have better taste than my mother 😉 Matt

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