How do consumers behave? — Analyzing networks and motives to share Word-of-Mouth

“People influence people. […] A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”
– Mark Zuckerberg.

It is crucial to be aware of networks when thinking about marketing campaigns.

It is even more important to understand the motives of users to engage in Word-of-Mouth (WoM) promotion.

This episode exposes the network of customer interaction and the willingness of your users to engage in product talk.

Welcome back to episode II. No worries, in comparison to Star Wars our blog actually runs chronologically.

Whereas the last episode explained the basics of WoM and its importance, we now dig deeper into the field and focus on consumer networks and motives.

Already curious?

Distribution of Information: Offline vs. Online

In general, WoM relies on two channels: Offline and online.

Channels have an important impact on the significance of information. In the following we will analyse how each channel influences a message.

There is the offline channel, also known as the traditional face-to-face.
This can, for example, happen via telephone and suggests a personal relationship between two consumers.

Offline is considered as very powerful and convincing. Experts have proven that 57% of consumers follow personal recommendations when trying a new website.

Online has emerged lately. Now consumers can spread their message to a network, rather than one-on-one.

The widespread impact of such messages is described as the “snowball-effect”. The following graphic illustrates the effect:

Social Media provides platforms to increase communication and overcome traditional boundaries like place, time, and even language.

This has become essential in our daily lives. Users like the simplified communication and connectivity.

Over 70% of internet users are registered in social networks, more than 80% of the U.S. population has a social media profile. This trend is expected to grow further, as the following graphic predicts:

Online conversations serve as bridge function that enables the spread of information due to its scope. However, in comparison to offline, online is more anonymous and less emotion driven.

Offline conversations have a deeper impact on the behavior of consumers. A study by Liu et al. (2015) confirms that 92% of consumers trust a recommendation sourced from personal contact.

Understanding Motives for Consumers to engage in Word-of-Mouth

When consumers spread content, they do not only share information, but rather personal insights.

They share information that define their personality traits. Existing studies reveal that there are several motivations to share.

For you, it is essential to understand consumer motives in order to adjust your product message.

Here is an overview over the most important ones:

1. Social acceptance

  • Proves to be the key motive and is seen as a fundamental human desire.

2. Self-improvement

  • Every fourth customer review includes self-improvement motives. Consumers try to impress their fellows and signal their social status through products.

3. Social bonds

  • Human beings have a desire to create relationships and connect. The success of social media underlines this desire.

4. Altruism

  • Essential for the help of others is the concept of care. It refers especially to people that are related to each other. WoM helps the receiver to make a better buying decision.

5. Customer Satisfaction

  • In comparison to the other motives, customer satisfaction is product related and not a social motive. A satisfied customer is more likely to engage in positive WoM. Customer satisfaction results in brand loyalty and commitment.

In summary, the social motives are driven by the desire to fulfill personal needs.

As a consequence, humans engage in social interactions, which in turn create product talk. In addition to that, there are product related motives such as customer satisfaction, which can be seen as a trigger for consumers to recommend a product.

Apart from social and product-related motives there are also emotional motives such as frustration that influence WoM conversation.

As I mentioned above, customer satisfaction leads to positive product talk. In general, one can distinguish between positive and negative Word-of-Mouth.

The next episode will conduct an analysis about effects and outcome of either positive or negative Word-of-Mouth.

Researcher confirm that consumers tell 9 people about their unsatisfied buying experience on average.
Want to know more about the impact of negative WoM? Stay curious and follow UXCam!
May the WoM be with you

Originally published at uxcam.com.