Virgin Wines site tests ‘word of mouse’ e-mails

Virgin is putting recent talk of “viral marketing” to the test in a pre-launch campaign for Virgin Wines.

The website is entering a crowded market populated by companies such as Madaboutwine.com, Chateauonline.com and Wine.today.com. In an attempt to cut through the clutter – at a low cost – Virgin is using a “word of mouse” campaign that will see consumers forward its e-mail to their friends.

The e-mail version of word of mouth has been termed “viral marketing”. In addition to the novelty factor, Virgin hopes its e-mail will attract attention by offering the chance to win a holiday on Richard Branson’s private island: Necker.

Virgin Wines chief executive Richard Gormley hopes to create “an enormous, quality database at very little cost. We estimate that 2.5 million people will take part in this competition, which we believe will make it the biggest of its kind. Such a database would have cost £20m to create before the Net was invented.”

Consumers enter the competition by sending an e-mail to Virgin Wines that includes the names of three friends they would like to take with them to Necker. Virgin then e-mails their friends.

Virgin says heightened fears about viral infection will be easily overcome by allowing anyone who is in doubt about the e-mail’s authenticity to visit the Virgin.Net website.

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