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As strange as the title of this post may seem, that is exactly what Suumo did, a real estate company in Japan,  when they were developing their most successful integrated marketing campaign.

Suumo is the biggest real estate information agent in Japan. They are a service provider that gives potential customers information about property that is available for buying or renting in Japan.

Suumo, having already secured the biggest market share in the property information market, has proven with its “Shell we move?” marketing campaign, that there is always room for improvement. An organisation should continuously strive to satisfy their consumers in new ways. With their latest advertising campaign, they not only expanded their housing services to new “customers” but they also dramatically increased their brand image and brand awareness.

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The Hermit crab, is a crab that according to Suumo, is a professional house seeker. They continuously seek for better shells throughout their lifetime, that accommodate their growth. Due to environmental degradation, there has been a shortage of sea shells in Japan. This means that these crabs are using unlikely objects, usually trash, to protect their soft abdomen. Suumo approached the Hermit crab as a new, unusual customer and sought out to satisfy their needs, by helping them find their ideal home.

Suumo, together with the Tokyo university of marine science, developed a organic cocoon shaped shell that scientifically would be the hermit crab’s ideal house. The organic material made from starch does not harm the environment and the structure is more spacious so that it does not hurt their abdomen.

This was a big investment that Suumo made towards a marketing campaign that was aimed at a customer who would not see the add, be able to purchase the product. But it would drastically better their lives. The big investment paid off.

The hermit crabs started moving into their new homes and soon became the brands live media. These crabs with the bright green shells with the brand logo on them was attraction attention not only on the beaches but in the city as well. They became the “talk of the town.”

Suumo had 50 million media impressions about the marketing campaign and their brand missions on social media increase by 480%. Customers purchase intention for the brand also increased to 112%. This proves that with social media and the Internet, whole new markets and consumers can be reached and how making a environmental influence increase consumers image of the brand.

In the future it will be important to take note that consumers are more environmentally conscious today. They care about their environment, if a company does the same they can identify with that organisation and will more likely support them. A modern organisation can not ignore the impact that it has on the environment that surrounds it.

Another important aspect to take note of its that not only will social media, more specifically mobile media will become the centre of marketing in the future. What makes this specific campaign more intresting is that the social media mentions were not posted by the brands marketing department, but by the consumers themselves. The videos and photos that generated the attention towards the video were posted by Japanese women and men who spotted the crab with the green shell in the street, they became “the talk of the town”

The power of user-generated content will surpass branded content as brands begin to give up control of their own brands’ marketing to their customers. From online reviews, to social media posts and blogs, this means there will be a strong need for brands to create a positive impact in their consumers’ minds.

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