Wharton research: What drives immediate and ongoing Word of Mouth?


Why do certain products get more word of mouth (WOM)? The research examines how product characteristics shape immediate and ongoing WOM. Although practitioners often argue that products must be interesting to be discussed, the authors demonstrate that this intuition is incorrect.

Word of Mouth driven by accesibility

Analysis of everyday conversations for more than 300 different products from a variety of categories (i.e., consumer packaged goods and household products to technology and financial services) show that while more interesting products are talked about more right after consumers first experience them, they do not receive more ongoing WOM over a multimonth period, or overall. Instead, the results suggest that WOM, particularly ongoing, is driven by accessibility. Everyday conversations often consist of idle chatter about whatever happens to come to mind, regardless of how mundane it may be. Consequently, products that are publicly visible or cued more by the environment receive more WOM both right away and over time because they are top of mind. Building on these findings, the authors conducted a large field experiment across various cities that increased WOM for Boston Market by approximately 10%.

Social ubiquity
The Agile Commerce concept shown in this article, pinpoints the power of social media used at each touch point throughout the customer journey. Word of Mouth can be persued in various ways between the touchpoints but also within the touchpoints, between the different channels or means.


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