Tesco Moves Into Social Marketing With BzzAgent

It’s been a week when all the big news has been about social websites floating on the stock exchange. Anyone would think that the social marketing was all about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google.

However, there are many other opportunities out there, as Tesco look set to prove by muscling in on the Social Marketing arena in a big way.

Today Tesco bought out a social marketing firm called BzzAgent for around £37 million ($60m). BzzAgent are a Boston based company which was founded in 2001 by Dave Balter.

BzzAgent’s mission was (and still is) to “allow marketers to accelerate and measure honest word of mouth, while giving consumers a fun way to try new products and influence brands“.

Over the last 6 years BzzAgent has become one of the most well-respected and best recognized word-of-mouth media networks with partnerships helping it to expand into Canada and the UK. They have worked with many global businesses including Unilever, Wrigley, L’Oreal, and Michelin.

Dave Balter will remain on board as the CEO of BzzAgent. Dave Balter has an B.A. in Psychology and is also an international speaker on the topic of word-of-mouth marketing as well as th author of 2 books on marketing, Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing and The Word of Mouth Manual: Volume II.

Regarding the acquisition by Tesco Dave Balter said: “They want to be more social; we want access to their customer base. Consumer loyalty leads to advocacy which leads to loyalty.

BzzAgent will work with Dunnhumby who are the media group behind the Tesco Clubcard.

Dunnhumby is a subsidiary of Tesco and employs over 1200 people in 30 countries. Dunnhumby operate a 40-terabyte database on customer information (those points have a purpose beyond saving you a few pennies!). This database is shared with several high-profile companies including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and US retailer Kroger.

Tesco bought a controlling 53% stake in Dunnhumby in 2001 for around £30 million and increased their share holdings to 86% in 2006.

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