Factors associated with the production of word of mouth

East, Robert, Uncles, Mark, Romaniuk, Jenni and Dall'Olmo Riley, Francesca (2015) Factors associated with the production of word of mouth. International Journal of Market Research, 57(3), pp. 439-458. ISSN (print) 1470-7853


Measures of the frequency of factors associated with both positive and negative word of mouth (WOM) are obtained by survey, using a typology established by Mangold, Miller and Brockway (1999). Preliminary and main studies are conducted, each covering four service categories. Respondents report on both giving and receiving word of mouth. This approach allows us to address three frequency-related concerns about WOM. First, we supply a survey-based count of word-of-mouth antecedents which will assist those making marketing decisions and formulating advertising strategies. Second, we build knowledge about WOM factors in a way that assists understanding of the nature of word of mouth. We find limited variation in the frequency of WOM factors by service category. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction have equal frequency in the production of WOM about services and, more generally, the frequencies of the antecedents of positive and negative WOM on services are closely similar. There is also little difference between the frequencies measured for factors associated with giving WOM and those related to receiving WOM. Third, we address the practice of deriving frequencies from qualitative reports, as was done by Mangold et al. Comparing their results with our own, we find substantial differences, which have implications for market research practice. One explanation for these differences is that retrieval bias operates more strongly in qualitative work than in surveys where it is constrained by the response format.

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