Understanding the language of word-of-mouth : a hermeneutic study of Internet-based word-of-mouth
Word-of-mouth is a frequently mentioned construct in marketing research.
Prior research has included numerous product categories, international settings and
both consumer and business environments. Unfortunately, this understanding of
word-of-mouth is largely based on positivistic, quantitative research. Previous
research has generally used retrospective surveys ("Think of time when you asked
for advice.... "). While this positivistic research adds to the general understanding of
the transactional mechanics of word-of-mouth, it ignores information that can
provide valuable insight. This is further complicated by the fact that a third of all
academic WOM journal articles fail to formally define the term.
Through the hermeneutic analysis of 127 actual word-of-mouth conversations
found on the internet, this dissertation expands the understanding of word-of-mouth.
While there is general support for previous word-of-mouth findings, there is a
significant extension of understanding.
This research has found evidence of the impact of anger, confusion and
humour on WOM conversations -- anger, impatience, humour and sarcasm.
Finally, there is evidence of WOM as more than a transaction, as a social
process. This is an area of research that has not been discussed in previous WOM
research. Of particular note is the fact that WOM conversations include multiple
participants. These participants interact. As such, the flow of information is more
complex than previously understood. WOM respondents influence other advice
givers as well as the original advice giver. This influence includes current and
previous interactions between the WOM participants.
A dynamic model of WOM is proposed.