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The Concept of Herding Behavior

The herding behavior refers to the social phenomenon wherein a group acts collectively without a specific direction. The herding behavior is developed around the theoretical framework of bounded rationality which states that in the decision-making, the rational choice is dependent upon several factors such as the limited amount of information that the individuals possess, finite time in which they have to made choice and the cognitive limitations of the mind. The behavioral economics also state that when an individual has limited time or information for taking a particular decision, he tends to copy the behavior of others. This revelation is commonly used by the marketers to increase their sales (Karakaya & Ganim Barnes, 2010). The consumers act collectively and run after the consumer products which are highly popular among the public. The herding behavior of the consumers can also be used in social marketing campaigns and raising the awareness of the consumers for the social causes. In this regard, the present essay will discuss the role of herding behavior in social marketing approaches.

The social marketing refers to the approach of using marketing activities to influence the behavior of the people for the benefit of the society. The social marketing refers to the marketing tactics which can influence the behavior of the society to work in sustainable and cost-effective manner. It is a systematic and planned process, which has several stages, namely, identifying the scope of marketing plan, implementation of marketing plan, evaluation of marketing plan and follow-up procedures (Huang & Chen, 2006). The goal of the social marketing approach is to change or direct the behavior of the people. The social marketing is not focused to increase awareness of the social cause or increase knowledge of it but it is directed towards social good. On the other hand, other marketing tactics are focused on increasing the profit of the organization.

In social marketing, marketing concepts are integrated with other concepts to influence the behavior of the public and direct it towards social good. The goal of the social marketing methods is to implement a competitive, sensitive and effective social change program which can influence the behavior of a particular customer segment.

The herd behavior refers to the alignment of thoughts or behaviors of different individuals in a group. It can be used for the social marketing campaigns as the people follow the behavior of their surrounding family members. The celebrity endorsement is based upon the technique of herding behavior. The celebrities or the public figures are used to influence the opinion of the consumers. It is the method of influencing large group of people. The customers prefer to follow the behavior of the celebrities and other prominent behavior. They give preference to the opinions of other people whose opinion they value. The marketers prefer to influence the opinion of the customers by implementing several techniques (Willemsen, Neijens & Bronner, 2012).

Social Marketing

The most important characteristic of the herding behavior is that the convergence refers through the local interactions among the people rather than coordination with the leading authority in the group (Lee & Lee, 2012). The herding behavior can be used in social marketing to raise the awareness of the people towards a social cause and direct people to take some actions to address the social cause.

The herd behavior is commonly used in marketing to increase the sales of the organization and adapt to the structure of the society. Although financial incentives and the product core competency are effective in increasing the sales of company; however, herd behavior can be commonly used by the organizations and marketing organizations to influence the perception of the customers. In the current times, the companies can ideally use herd behavior to influence the consumer perception as the consumers have increased accessibility to the opinions and the information of both the opinion leaders and the user-generated content. The consumers have more tools for the decision-making process. The communication technology has increased the choices of the customers for specific consumer goods. In addition to it, the consumers consider popularity as an indicator of high popularity and use the opinion posted by others on the social media platforms to guide them towards different products and brands. The peer groups and family also influence the perception of the consumers towards different products. It can be critiqued that the peers and the family members cause social influence which increases with the direct interaction of the consumers with their peer groups. With the advent of technology, the social media marketing tools are also commonly used by the marketers to influence the behavior of the customers. The social media tools can be commonly used as a powerful tool in perpetuating the herd behavior in the customers. The user-generated content is an excellent tool which can be used by the opinion leaders to take the leadership role and influence the purchase decision of customers (Hu, Koh & Reddy, 2014). It is commonly employed to make recommendations to peers and use positive online experience so that consumers become inclined towards the marketed product.

The social influence is essential in framing the attitudes of the customers towards the brands which results in creating positive intentions of the customers regarding the purchase decision. The social influencers form differ norms which their followers easily follow. The social influencers can increase the efficacy of the social influence process by targeting the extrovert personalities. The social influence expands as a cumulative effect with extrovert personalities. The discussions on the social media website which increases the excitement and interest have greater impact on the consumer behavior. It also has a greater impact on the purchase likelihood and involvement of large number of people in the purchase decision (Huang, Hsiao & Chen, 2012).

Use of Herding Behavior in Marketing

The social marketing methods use the benefit of doing social good to increase the customer engagement. The social marketing is different from other marketing methods as the primary focus in social marketing is social good and it is not a secondary outcome of the marketing methods. There are several examples of social marketing which have positively influenced the behavior of the society. For instance, an awareness program promotes and encourages people to get regular vaccination and check-ups are considered as a social marketing effort as it is aimed as positively influencing the behavior of the society for long-term (Lee & Kotler, 2015). Another example of social marketing is to reduce cigarette smoking among the population. However, the implementation of the social marketing campaign is very difficult and realizes long-term behavioral change in the target population.

The social marketing campaigns are not always conducted by governmental or not-profit organizations; however, corporate organizations also implement the social marketing initiatives to achieve public relations. Despite being different from the commercial marketing, it uses same marketing tactics as commercial marketing methods. The social marketing methods apply a customer oriented approach for the development of the marketing plan. The social marketers can develop competitive advantage by creating changes in the marketing campaign.

The marketers can use the herd behavior in social media marketing and encourage different actions of the customers. It can also be commonly used in social media marketing wherein the customers are encouraged to take certain steps regarding social earth, environmentalism and the general society. The herd marketing method is commonly used for the social campaigns such as Earth Day, alcohol control or human rights day. The herd marketing technique is a successful technique as the audience itself becomes the marketer which instills them with a sense of ownership and empowerment to the customers. The students have high level of influence over on another and by the use of stronger personalities the marketer can secure the attention of other people in the reference group (Tuten & Solomon, 2014).

The herding behavior aligns with the traditional word-of-mouth technique. It is recognized as one of the best marketing method to influence the consumer behavior. The emergence of internet has provided immense opportunity for the marketing professionals in creating and spreading marketing information to different customer segments. The online herding is a powerful effect which occurs when the consumers are influenced by the preceding consumers’ opinions or the experience of their customers (Lee & Kotler, 2015).

Conclusion

The social marketers can use herding behavior by the use of popular websites such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter. They are the online platforms which can be used for connecting like-minded people with each other. It is a cheap way to market the product to the customers. The marketing professionals can also use email marketing to access thee customers. The email and telephonic marketing are cheap methods or communication tools to access the customers; however, it does not yield prompt responses from the customers.

References

Hu, N., Koh, N. S., & Reddy, S. K. (2014). Ratings lead you to the product, reviews help you clinch it? The mediating role of online review sentiments on product sales. Decision support systems, 57, 42-53.

Huang, J. H., & Chen, Y. F. (2006). Herding in online product choice. Psychology & Marketing, 23(5), 413-428.

Huang, J. H., Hsiao, T. T., & Chen, Y. F. (2012). The Effects of Electronic Word of Mouth on Product Judgment and Choice: The Moderating Role of the Sense of Virtual Community1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42(9), 2326-2347.

Karakaya, F., & Ganim Barnes, N. (2010). Impact of online reviews of customer care experience on brand or company selection. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 27(5), 447-457.

Lee, E., & Lee, B. (2012). Herding behavior in online P2P lending: An empirical investigation. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 11(5), 495-503.

Lee, N.R., & Kotler, P. (2015). Social Marketing: Changing Behaviors for Good. SAGE Publications.

Tuten, T.L., & Solomon, M.R. (2014). Social Media Marketing. SAGE.

Willemsen, L. M., Neijens, P. C., & Bronner, F. (2012). The ironic effect of source identification on the perceived credibility of online product reviewers. Journal of Computer?Mediated Communication, 18(1), 16-31.

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