As we’re moving on from Halloween, the super-short season of monsters and ghouls that don’t really exist (perhaps only in our minds), I wanted to pick up on a marketing tactic called Vapour testing.
Exactly as the term suggests, it is marketing something that doesn’t actually exist. Most recently, the term re-entered my mind through a brand that I’m quite familiar with. Apparently, this particular company use this tactic all the time to gauge consumer interest in a particular item. How it works is that when a customer adds that certain item to their shopping trolley, they’re informed it is not available, but the company can still monitor that interest (or lack of it).
For consumers, if a product isn’t available it can heighten the desire to purchase. However, with vapour marketing the product hasn’t even been manufactured yet, so there is nothing to purchase.
Vapour testing is being used in other industries too. Think about recruitment agencies advertising jobs that sound too good to be true to draw in skilled applicants. Yet when asked about the vacancy, it seems to have been filled (or withdrawn) in the space of a day. Vapour testing, anyone?
With my marketing hat on, I think it’s an interesting way to test and learn about a product before exposing it to your target audience for potential success or fail. With my brand/consumer hat on, the customer journey is sub-optimal at best and misleading at worst. The ASA guidelines say “If the marketer does not intend to fulfil orders, for example, because the purpose of the marketing communication is to assess potential demand, the marketing communication must make that clear.”
If companies make it too obvious, it might defeat the purpose of their test and results might not be as accurate, not to mention putting off consumers. On the other hand, companies should adhere to the guidelines or face trouble when customers complain. Either way it could cause major problems.
So, where does that leave Vapour testing? There are other ways of sparking interest if the budget for market research isn’t available. For example, The Wonderland has used social media channels for this purpose in the past, to test what could and won’t work for a brand or product. Another option is to use the purchase confirmation page for a quick question.
Companies forget that their target audience are just people and that being straight forward and honest is the best policy. I expect however, that many companies “fly under the radar” and simply carry on with it, hoping no one complains and that it won’t have a negative impact on their brand.
Liked what you read? Sign up and follow our blog.