Stealth marketing, also known as buzz marketing or undercover marketing, is a form of indirect marketing which promotes products and services to people without them knowing it. It is a subtle way of advertising the products or service without people noticing it. This type of marketing approach is useful to create a buzz for a product or a brand. Such marketing is often done through celebrity endorsement, product placement, influences and making viral videos.
The primary objective of stealth marketing is not to generate immediate sales but to create curiosity and excitement among the consumers for the product or service. Large companies often use this type of marketing to spread the information of a product by word-of- mouth. Even though stealth marketing reflects a powerful message and reinforces brand loyalty among people, it has been criticized for being unethical and deceptive. For instance, several companies who have fake viral videos, produce media attention intentionally and have undisclosed amounts for advertising to influencers. However, effective and ethical stealth marketing can spread awareness of a brand and build positive association with certain products.
Types of Stealth Marketing
There are several types of stealth marketing which marketers use to advertise the products and services to the people without their knowledge. Some of the common types of stealth marketing that marketers often use are:
It is a very common form of stealth marketing which refers to showing a particular product or service in television shows, movies and other forms of media. Marketers feature their products in such media to target a large audience. Companies can feature their products in videos and ads through the actors and influences. This type of marketing is also known as embedded marketing. Consumers perceive this type of marketing positively as they can relate to the product naturally.
In this type of marketing strategy, marketers introduce a product or service in such a way that doesn’t seem like formal advertising at all. This type of marketing includes reviews or feedback from consumers about the new product that they have tried or heard from others. This causes a curiosity among people to try from what other people have said about the product. This type of marketing can be very subtle and people often don’t notice it.
This technique involves quick flashes of a particular product, images, service, hidden messages, or cues which carries the power to create an impact on consumers’ awareness. It influences the opinions and perspectives of the consumers regarding a product. One example of subliminal message can be setting a message in a song while an image appears.
Sometimes, companies encourage people to write positive reviews and comments about a particular product by paying them or giving them other incentives. This is also one form of stealth marketing. Likewise, companies provide early access to a product to a certain consumer before launching it and ask them to write a positive review about the product.
At times, product owners intentionally create online feuds about certain products and services to draw the attention of people and in return advertise their products or services. They create a fake controversy to capture the attention of the audience and start the discussions about the product online.
Advantages of Stealth Marketing
Stealth marketing has several advantages if used ethically and strategically. The following are some of the advantages of stealth marketing:
Generates of prior interest
Stealth marketing creates a prior interest among the people by capturing the attention of the targeted audience and arousing a curiosity, excitement and deep desire for the product. People become curious and interested in seeing and using the products that influencers use. This helps the company to generate short-term profits from the product.
Promoting the product without advertising
Today, the advertising market is flooded with numerous ads and it’s becoming extremely difficult for the marketers to capture the attention of the audience. However, stealth marketing can help to gain the attention of consumers indirectly through its innovative presentation and help the companies to promote the product without advertising.
Builds brand image
Stealth marketing creates an impact of a product in the consumer’s mind which helps to build the brand image. People are attracted to remember the brand name, product name, which helps to build the brand association and brand recall value, eventually leading to developing the brand image in the consumer’s mind and creating customer’s loyalty.
Stealth marketing techniques are cost efficient which helps the business to avoid unnecessary expenses such as shooting in luxurious studios with extraordinary backgrounds or in far locations. Instead, businesses can create basic videos using icons which can arouse curiosity among people. This saves a lot of time and money for the marketers.
Downside of Stealth Marketing
There are some downsize of such marketing as well. Some of such downsizes are:
Damaging the brand image
Sometimes, the stealth marketing efforts can backfire on the brand which threatens the entire reputation of the brand. Although the marketers use stealth marketing to build a positive brand image, when consumers get to know about the real intention of them, then it can damage brand image.
Legally doubtful act
There are certain stealth marketing acts which fall under the legality of certain jurisdictions. Undercover marketing activities which misleads the consumers and manipulate the certain information are unethical and punishable by law.
Lack of attention from people
If people get to know that companies are using misleading ads to promote their products, then they will lose their trust and faith in the company. In such a situation, people don’t give too much attention to the company and their products.