Many marketing students want to work in corporate social media upon graduation. After all, current graduates are much more familiar with this new world of marketing than many of the managers who are in the position to hire them. I think this Vice program says a lot about the social media world in which new graduates will work. Watch this video first, and then read my thoughts on it below.
- Social media is effective. This fake restaurant had no advertising budget, yet, with the help of just a few fake reviews, it was able to become the number one rated restaurant in London and one of the most in-demand seats in the London restaurant scene. This shouldn’t be surprising, however, given the plethora of research that has documented the effect of online reviews on sales. Nonetheless, the fact that only online word of mouth can generate such demand is eye opening. Nobody told their friends about this restaurant and no traditional marketing dollars were spent. Skeptics of social media should take note and marketing graduates should feel a little bit of optimism.
- What is satisfaction? In our traditional view of satisfaction (expectation disconfirmation), our personal experiences are thought of something independent of expectations. Therefore, if our experiences exceed expectations, we’re more likely to feel satisfied. In this example, it’s clear that our experiences are highly influenced by both our expectations (we don’t like to feel disappointment) and the experiences of those people around us (our opinions tend to conform). The customers at The Shed (unknowingly) ate microwaved meals for which they tried months to reserve seats. All that effort, all the great reviews they’ve read, all the anticipation involved for this objectively bad meal, yet they still raved about the experience.
- What is reality anyway? For many product categories, we don’t really have a great objective measure of good and bad. Sometimes, the best meal is just that dorm-cooked ramen hanging out with your friends. When there’s so much uncertainty about “true” quality, it is easy to see how we can manipulate ourselves into thinking anything. Sometimes I find a great restaurant stumbling around a new city by accident, really enjoy my meal, and then shift down my opinion a little bit when I see that it’s only rated 3 stars on Yelp. I question my own perceptions, especially if it’s an ethnic food with which I’m not familiar. I make myself think, “oh, there must be better examples of this food.” Marketers should be keen to this phenomenon. It’s not good enough just to have a good product, you must also get people to talk about how great that product really is – and not just for the benefit of new customers, but existing ones as well.
What are your thoughts on this?
One thought on “The Shed at Dulwich”
Dr. Wang, I came across the VICE article a few weeks ago, and it absolutely fascinated me! It’s the best fake news, undertaken as fake reporting about fake news I’ve ever seen. It was so meta that I found myself questioning everything. Midway through the article I did notice in screen clippings that The Shed had very few reviews for a “restaurant” climbing the TripAdvisor charts. But, on I read! What a surprise when you finally reach the end. It’s like I’d been taken on an amusement park ride. You mention perception, I perceived the piece to be a real report on something that actually happened! The author completely and thoroughly “writes-as-if”. The sensationalism of the article proves the point about fake news spreading so much more deeply and faster that “real” news.
This reminds me of the last box-subscription service I demo’d. It was crap. The photos and descriptions made me believe I was going to receive high-quality products, but I was extremely disappointed in the packaging, quality, and fit. I feel that as more products leave brick-and-mortar for direct to consumer, packaging experience and first impressions have become the most important aspect of a product. Can you think of a company who is doing that exceptionally?