When Major Brands Enter Social Media Marketing, It’s Go Big or Go Home

With only 163 stores in the United States, compared with over 5,000 stores worldwide- primarily in Europe and Asia- Tesco isn’t a store that is familiar to most Americans.

But what it lacks in name-recognition, it makes up for in revenues as the third-largest retailer in the world, lagging behind Wal-Mart and the French chain, Carrefour.

You wouldn’t be far off to call it a U.K version of Wal-Mart. And the Wal-Mart comparison is especially apt today, because only a month after the Bentonville, Arkansas-based superstore purchased social media technology platform Kosmix for $300 million, Tesco has just performed a similar acquisition, purchasing Boston-based social marketing firm BzzAgent for nearly $60 million.

The firm’s 60 employees and 800,000 BzzAgents –regular consumers who test new products and share their opinions on social media websites – will operate as a standalone subsidiary of Dunhumby, a Tesco subsidiary that creates shopper loyalty programs for over 200 million cardholders.

As Ad Age said in their write up of the acquisition, “The deal underscores the growing interest among major retailers to buy into digitally derived advertising strategies.” And a Wall Street Journal blog post from April, asking whether Wal-Mart’s Kosmix deal will inspire other major retailers, seems especially prescient in light of today’s events.

This acquisition by Tesco is a clear indication that the biggest retailers in the world are making social media marketing a priority and, from $60 million to $300 million, they’ll pay almost any price for it.

Shannon Riffe Shannon Riffe is a Marketing Assistant, helping to execute Fluency’s social media programs and generate engaging and viral content for clients. Read more from Shannon at blog.fluencymedia.com.