Innocent bystanders or active participants. Which one are you?



“Hi, (Despina) it has been a while since we have seen you”…A usual exchange between family, friends, your hairdresser, the place that you buy your lunch, your favourite restaurant. Right…Well wrong…

Now you could be forgiven for thinking that this exchange was in fact between parties that have an intimate relationship like family and friends. So you can imagine my surprise when one night I went to open my emails and found this message in the subject line. My immediate response was not one of “Oh that is nice” but rather, “Who is this?”, “How do they know that?”, “Why are my movements known”? As the questions were going through my head I remember my heart racing and feeling as though my privacy was violated.

Of course I wanted answers to my questions, so I opened the email and realised that it was from one of my favourite brands. It now made sense. I remembered having shopped at the store during a promotion period for members. I recall being asked at the time if I was a member to which I replied “No”. I was then informed that to sign up is really easy and there are no costs. I thought this was great. Easy, no costs and unlike health cover memberships there are no waiting periods. I would immediately be saving money. Of course I agreed to become a member but clearly I was ignorant to what in fact I was signing up for….

Email marketing such as the example above has been used to build loyalty and retention throughout the customer database which is the most valuable asset for a business. Active customers, those that open, click emails and take action afterwards are considered most valuable. Most of us have signed up for Coles Flybuys and Woolworths Everyday rewards and by doing so, Coles and Woolworths collect a huge amount of customer data. They are able to learn about our shopping habits, what, when and where we shop, buy our petrol, how much we spend on average every week and so on…

The proliferation of traditional and digital media has given rise to the concept of integrated marketing communication (IMC) that has been described as an inside-out approach to marketing communication.

Business need to build an inside out approach to marketing communication that involves expanding media choices so as to capture reach, intimacy and engagement.

New media technologies – the Internet, mobile broadband, e-commerce, internet-enabled entertainment, social networking, and others – are fundamentally changing the way people interact with each other and the world.

The evolution of the internet has seen the redirection from the organization monologue towards consumers to the dialogue and interactions with consumers in real time. The internet is an interactive community where users can communicate, share, post, blog and create content in real time.

Traditional media whilst achieving reach goals do not provide a true marketing exchange. Consumers are no more than innocent and unwilling bystanders in the actions of marketers.

Digital technology marketing such as social media and email marketing has changed the relationship between consumers and business. Terms such as prosumer (i.e. producer and consumer) and presumption (i.e. production and consumption) have emerged to reflect this change in relationship.

Moreover the term “prosumer” has transformed from meaning “professional consumer” to meaning “product and brand advocate.” Rather than simply “consuming” products, people are becoming the voices of those products and significantly impacting the success or failure of companies, products, and brands, particularly through their involvement on the social web.


Digital marketing puts consumers, the information and messages in the centre of communication. Businesses are no longer completely in control of their products, brands and messages. Today, consumers are in control. In the case for Ivy, CUE email marketing (as one kind of integrated marketing communication), has built her brand awareness, loyalty and positive attitude to the brand. In some instances Ivy will receive 3-4 emails within one week and in this case she will click and delete immediately. However when Ivy receives from CUE about new season campaigns or sales she will often go to the store, to look and which most often will result in a purchase. What is your experience with email marketing?

Relationship communication is any type of marketing communication that influences the receiver’s long-term commitment to the sender by facilitating meaning creation through integration with the receiver’s time and situational context. Whereas the integrated marketing communication refers to an integration of messages that takes place at the company level, integration according to the Relationship Communication Model refers to integrating the message with the consumer’s time and situation. The integration takes place at the consumer level. Instead of integrating outbound messages the focus is shifted to the consumer’s integration of inbound messages. Thus reinforcing the change in relationship between businesses and consumers.

Businesses need to let go and allow their prosumers take control and spread the messages….Prosumers are the greatest drivers of business’ product, brand and can influence the success and failure. Businesses should refrain from strategies to maintain control such as covert marketing. When these strategies go wrong, businesses are exposed and can be negatively affected.

“Word of mouth” is an important and effective influencer of consumer purchases. eWOM messages are more permanent as compared to the fleeting and temporary nature of traditionally spoken WOM message. This changing online environment necessitates businesses to focus on building credible online reputation.

On a final thought, the digital and online platforms such as social media have brought about changes to the IMC. Digital media presents only a part of IMC strategy and requires integration with traditional marketing. What do you think?



Nekmat, E & Gower, KK 2012, ‘Effects of Disclosure and Message Valence in Online Word-of-Mouth (eWOM) Communication: Implications for Integrated Marketing Communication’, International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications, vol. 4, Issue 1, pp. 85-98.

TĂLPĂU, A 2014, ‘SOCIAL MEDIA – A NEW WAY OF COMMUNICATION’, Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov Series V: Economic Sciences, vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 45-52. shift from consumers-to-prosumers/


10 thoughts on “Innocent bystanders or active participants. Which one are you?

  1. Thanks to technological enhancement. Marketing become much more easier than ever. But style of promoting products and services is kind of slick that make us sick. Especially for FaceBook and Instagram users, we will experience of marketing style by spamming via comments and replies. Different than established products that aired their ads through sponsored slot in the timeline. At least this kind of style didn’t annoy you a lot compared to what spammers did. We’re in this generation that experience this level of spammers, I can’t imagine what will happen to marketing style in the future?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Strongly agreed! One of my daily routine is to delete promotion ads from eBay and some chemistry store , just in case they jammed up and I would miss the important email. Business should be careful with this kind of strategy or otherwise they might annoy customers and turn them away

      Liked by 1 person

      • We’re living in this generation. Of course we can filter that through settings. But somehow filter is still not strong enough as some of them may get through to the account. Funny, but need to deal with it. *LOL*


  2. I signed up for the discounts & rewards NOT the marketing from EVERY Company in your group!
    How annoying is this? I’m a sucker for a bargain & it’s a nice touch that you email a discount voucher for my birthday that I can spend in store on in your online store. Not many other real people remember But the daily bombardment is extremely annoying!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This hasn’t effected me that much, but it is scary how many customer loyalty cards my partner has. There is a whole section in her purse dedicated to these cards.

    I do find it over the top when these emails come through so regularly, however if the emails start advertisement something I didn’t sign up for or goes against my values, I will usually unsubscribe.
    As this can wreck the brand image I do believe not over emailing customers, and instead letting word of mouth do it’s magic.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Email marketing rarely works for me. The annoying part is however, I often sign up in store, then get so bombarded with emails that I ‘unsubscribe’. Then the next time I’m in the store they ask if i’m a member, I say yes, but then learn that by unsubscribing to the emails I’ve actually cancelled my membership.

    I need to decide whether to stop signing up or stop unsubscribing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I certainly feel as if some companies over do it on the number of emails you get. I think they need to remember email is only one form of digital communication. If I really like a brand or product I’ll tend to like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram – I really don’t need 3 emails a week from them to tell me what they are doing! If they focus on having me sign up / like / follow their online presence, I will see the 3 communications in 3 different formats. I may actually read what is going on rather than ‘Select All’ ‘Delete’!
    Your final question about traditional marketing – I’m going to take that as mail. I love receiving mail. Although now I rarely get anything. But the thrill of having something turn up in the mail either it be a brochure or letter or card was fun. I’d like to see more companies use the traditional marketing, even if it is only once or twice a year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Following most of the post, my inbox is filled most days with unwanted email marketing that I find annoying and I do not read. I now immediately unsubscribe and delete. This does not mean I will not purchase from some of the companies, but I do not wish to have my day consumed with constant exposure to products that I buy infrequently. Does email marketing really work…?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, email marketing can be useful sometimes especially when I am looking for promotion and good deals because I don’t visit their retail store/ website every day to know what’s happening. Recently, I got a very good bargain of flight ticket from Jetstar email marketing. I knew when the sale started and that’s the time when I bought my ticket. I was very happy with my purchase. You can get many good promotions from this email marketing and also sometimes special deals are only available when you subscribe the newsletter/ email marketing. They value you as loyal customers thus you get special offers. You can also get good discount during your birthday – not a bad idea I guess? I don’t mind with this type of marketing, I can just delete and unsubscribe the unnecessary ones and only follow the ones that I need.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Insightful article. Just like you have signed up for some sort membership / email notifications in a few stores. Worse decisions ever!!!!

    I find them extremely annoying and have hardly been persuaded to purchase the goods being advertised. The adverts/emails are just to many, and i never open all of them. Most usually end up as spam. As i one time customer i get enslaved into forceful relationship of buy more , how about this, did you know – oh lordy!

    I guess for a more frugal shopper, who likes to be informed of the latest trends and discounts, these from of marketing may be beneficial.

    I seem never to be able to find the unsubscribe button too!


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