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Can the Snuggie Hype be Replicated?

A few months ago I was watching ABC’s Shark Tank and a “Swilt” (a sweater and a blanket combo) was the first pitch of the night.   One of the very astute entrepreneurs made the observation that the “Swilt” was very similar to the Snuggie . . . . .and that the Snuggie was dead.    The statement was made with such certainty and humor it made me laugh outright.  However, the comment also reminded me of what a pop-culture phenomenon the Snuggie was (and truth be known, I still see them selling today). 

Today I happened across a research paper “Profiling Customer Engagement with “Snuggie” Experience in Social Media” authored by HaeJung, JiYoung Kim, and Kiseol Yang of the University of North Texas.  My interest in the Snuggie returned . . . . .What was it that created such customer engagement around the Snuggie?

The research paper’s intent was to prove that the ability to create compelling engagement in social media depends on the successful facilitation of relationships and information which will in turn lead to a creative and communicative and interactive experience.  The approach of the study was quite interesting:  364 Amazon customer reviews were compiled and analyzed for content.  Eleven key words were extracted and grouped into five “experience rooms”:  physical attributes; intangible artifacts; technology; customer placement; and customer involvement.  The article goes on to discuss how profiling social media experiences can be useful tools to brands, with benefits ranging from shortening response times, to complementing internal metrics, to serving as a platform for testing customer reactions.

While these learnings are most easily applied to fast moving consumer goods, I think the authors’ conclusion of the article is applicable in the B2B world as well:   “Companies need to create a supply chain of increasingly sophisticated and interactive content to feed consumer demand for information and engagement . . . “  As I discussed in a recent blog about online community forums being integral in a customer’s evaluation of service quality (Social Media’s Influence on Brand, Trust, and Loyalty), the ideal of engagement is important.  Facilitating a collaborative customer community can be important.  Listening (and acting upon)  what is being said in these forums provides a wealth of opportunity:  as customers become engaged, momentum can be built – and a phenomenon can result.

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