Consumers often talk about and share opinions, news, and information with others. Theychitchat about a recent vacation, complain about a bad movie, or rave about a new restaurant.They gossip about co-workers, discuss important political issues, and debate the latest sportsrumors. New technologies like Facebook, Twitter, and texting have only made it faster and easierfor people to share stories and information with others. There are thousands of blogs, millions of tweets, and billions of emails written every day.
Such interpersonal communication can be described as word-of-mouth,
informalcommunications directed at other consumers about the ownership, usage, or characteristics of particular goods and services or their sellers," (Westbrook 1987, 261).Word-of-mouth includesproduct related discussion (e.g., the Nike shoes were really comfortable) as well as the sharing of product related content (e.g., Nike ads on YouTube). It includes direct recommendations (e.g.,
you‘d love this restaurant) as well as mentions (e.g., we went to this restaurant last week). It
includes literal word-of-mouth, or face-to-
face discussions, as well as so called ―word of mouse,‖
in online mentions and reviews.Word-of-mouth has a huge impact on consumer behavior. Social talk generates over 3.3billion brand impressions each day (Keller and Libai 2009). It shapes everything from themovies we watch and the books we read to the websites we visit and the restaurants we patronize(Chevalier and Mayzlin 2006; Chintagunta, Gopinath, and Venkataraman 2010; Godes andMayzlin 2009; Trusov, Bucklin, and Pauwels 2009). The consulting firm McKinsey (2010)
suggests that ―
word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing
Social media has received lots of attention but word-of-mouth is not a new phenomenon. Interpersonalcommunication has existed since the advent of language. Cavemen shared opinions about which animals were easyto hunt or where to search for food. Social media has made it easier to quickly share with large groups, but in all thehype people have forgotten how much word-of-mouth actually happens offline. Some estimates suggest that 75% of word-of-mouth is face-to-face and only 7% is online (Keller and Fay 2009). Consequently, it is important toconsider the drivers and consequences of both online and offline word-of-mouth.