I came across this case study on Media.Asia today – about Parle’s Hippo using Twitter as a channel for retail inventory tracking. I have written about Hippo’s tweets earlier and I like the tone and outlook of this twitter feed.

But, at what point does an agency ‘go for a’ case study? The case study says,

Hippo received stock update Tweets from over 25 cities. At zero cost, the number of people tracking stocks across markets over Twitter for Hippo were equivalent to 45% of its sales team.

By matching supply with demand more effectively, Hippo managed to up its sales by 76% in the first few months after launch.

The campaign helped Hippo to identify, gauge demand and prioritise its potential new markets

Hippo effectively used social media to do what no one has ever done before – reinforce and support its sales and distribution network.

Hippo’s twitter profile has 850+ tweets, right from the first tweet sent on February 22, 2010, till today. A quick check on the tweets reveal not more than 35 tweets where Hippo is either seen responding to tweeters for referring a store where Hippo is not available or seeking more information from people who have pointed to Hippo not being available with only sketchy details. I started this search only because I have been following Hippo’s tweets right from the beginning and do not recall such a massive response from people about retail outlets where Hippo is not available.

Even assuming all these 35 are from unique cities, is 35 a good enough to number to proclaim “effective retail inventory tracking”, to quote the case study? In other words, is 35 a good enough number to ‘go for a’ case study?

I understand that 35 is merely a number and it needs to be seen in some context. I also agree that it is a fantastic PR angle to gun for, but I’m wondering aloud if the number should be in better proportion to say, the total number of outlets selling such (Hippo-like? Baked/Fried munchies?) snacks in India, which I assume would perhaps run into 1000s (and I could be completely wrong in this assumption)?

This post is not intended to demean Hippo’s efforts – it is definitely unique for a low involvement/low engagement brand and nails a very innovative thought using twitter, but a broader question is, when should brands/agencies carve a case study out of their social media programs and make reasonably grand statements as conclusion?

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