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On the Pig’s Back

Pig's Back says it's here to fight back for brands and these days they could do with a little fighting talk. Creator Michael Dwyer talks tough to ShelfLife

Feb 11 2009

Michael Dwyer, chief executive Empathy Marketing

Michael Dwyer, chief executive Empathy Marketing

For those who don’t know it, pigsback.com is almost a decade in business and is one of the few enterprises feeling a bit cheery about this recession. Mastermind behind the site, Michael Dwyer, chief executive Empathy Marketing, spoke to ShelfLife about why he believes it’s so well placed to meet brands’ and consumers’ needs these days.

From the “tone of the communication” to the treatment of members’ data, Pigsback.com tries always to act in a way that won’t tick off visiting consumers. “It’s critical to maintaining a long-term relationship, as opposed to just making a quick buck,” says Dwyer. “The site is an eco-system for brands,” he says, but “it puts the consumer first,” allowing them to interact with the brands they are interested in, in return for real rewards.

One marketing device, the coupon, is making a dramatic comeback in these belt-tightening times. “It’s becoming cool again,” says Dwyer, who believes the coupon will be a valuable weapon in the war against the private label. “With enough coupons, it could make the difference between consumers choosing a branded outlet over a discounter.”

Of course Pigsback.com is not only about coupons but uses an array of marketing solutions, including sampling, special offers, competitions and loyalty (‘piggy’) points. The main premise of Pigsback.com, as a marketing tool, is that it is principally focused on the consumer and his or her own interests. Marketing is targeted but entirely permission-based and, consequently, genuinely interactive.

With a background in FMCG, Dwyer wanted to find a more effective way of exploiting the Internet. Other forms of online marketing he thought were “a touch of the emperor’s new clothes,” or in other words, not really there. “Pigsback is all about real engagement between brands and consumers. It’s proactive, there’s real click activity, it’s measurable.”

And it seems to be serving consumers well in this recession. “We’ve seen a substantial uplift in traffic since mid 2008, and we’ve had a very strong January. Consumers are obviously looking for something extra,” says Dwyer. With an active member base of 283,000 and over one million weekly brand interactions, the evidence points to it.

The benefits to member and brand lie in the collectiveness of this marketing service. “It’s the aggregate benefits of all the brands together, operating collectively,” says Dwyer, which makes the site so worthwhile for consumers. And hence for the brands, more to the point. “Pigsback offers brands a real way to fight back,” he says, and make real relationships with consumers that just won’t happen in the real world.

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