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Word of mouth

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Title: Word of mouth  
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Subject: Work of Mouth, Referral marketing, Zappos, Influencer marketing, Word of mouth (disambiguation)
Collection: Communication, History of Communication, Human Communication
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Word of mouth

Word of mouth or viva voce,[1] is the passing of information from person to person by oral communication, which could be as simple as telling someone the time of day. Storytelling is a common form of word-of-mouth communication where one person tells others a story about a real event or something made up. Oral tradition is cultural material and traditions transmitted by word of mouth through successive generations. Storytelling and oral tradition are forms of word of mouth that play important roles in folklore and mythology. Another example of oral communication is oral history—the recording, preservation and interpretation of historical information, based on the personal experiences and opinions of the speaker. Oral history preservation is the field that deals with the care and upkeep of oral history materials collected by word of mouth, whatever format they may be in.

In marketing, word-of-mouth communication (WOM) involves the passing of information between a non-commercial communicator (i.e. someone who is not rewarded) and a receiver concerning a brand, a product, or a service.[2] When WOM is mediated through electronic means, the resulting electronic word of mouth (eWoM) refers to any statement consumers share via the Internet (e.g., web sites, social networks, instant messages, news feeds) about a product, service, brand, or company.[3] The process in which the sender of word-of-mouth communication is rewarded is referred to as utilize Proconsumer WOM effectively.

WOM has been researched for many years and as a result much is known about what drives WOM (e.g. customer satisfaction, trust and brand commitment) and its far-reaching consequences (e.g. affective/emotional, cognitive, and behavioral) for both consumers and organizations.[6] WOM's effectiveness as an information source for consumers can be broken down into two factors: WOM's reach and WOM's impact. These two factors are in turn explained by 13 other drivers.[5] Despite much research many research questions remain unanswered in the area of WOM.[7]


  • Storytelling 1
  • Oral tradition 2
  • Oral history 3
  • Marketing 4
  • Systems 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


Storytelling often involves improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and in order to instill moral values.

The earliest forms of storytelling were thought to have been primarily oral combined with gesture storytelling for many of the ancient cultures. The Australian Aboriginal people painted symbols from stories on cave walls as a means of helping the storyteller remember the story. The story was then told using a combination of oral narrative, music, rock art, and dance.

Traditionally, oral stories were committed to memory and then passed from generation to generation. However, in literate societies, written and televised media have largely replaced this method of communicating local, family, and cultural histories. Oral storytelling remains the dominant medium of learning in some countries with low literacy rates.

Oral tradition

Oral tradition (sometimes referred to as "oral culture" or "oral lore") is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another.[8][9] The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants. In this way, it is possible for a society to transmit oral history, oral literature, oral law and other knowledges across generations without a writing system.

Sociologists emphasize a requirement that the material is held in common by a group of people, over several generations, and thus distinguish oral tradition from testimony or oral history.[10] In a general sense, "oral tradition" refers to the transmission of cultural material through vocal utterance, and was long held to be a key descriptor of folklore (a criterion no longer rigidly held by all folklorists).[11] As an academic discipline, it refers both to a set of objects of study and a method by which they are studied[12]—the method may be called variously "oral traditional theory", "the theory of Oral-Formulaic Composition" and the "Parry-Lord theory" (after two of its founders). The study of oral tradition is distinct from the academic discipline of oral history,[13] which is the recording of personal memories and histories of those who experienced historical eras or events.[14] It is also distinct from the study of orality, which can be defined as thought and its verbal expression in societies where the technologies of literacy (especially writing and print) are unfamiliar to most of the population.[15]

Oral history

Oral history is the recording of personal memories and histories of those who experienced historical eras or events.[14] Oral history is a method of historical documentation, using interviews with living survivors of the time being investigated. Oral history often touches on topics scarcely touched on by written documents, and by doing so, fills in the gaps of records that make up early historical documents. Oral history preservation is the field that deals with the care and upkeep of oral history materials, whatever format they may be in.[16]


Word-of-mouth marketing, which encompasses a variety of subcategories, including buzz, blog, viral, grassroots, brand advocates, cause influencers and social media marketing, as well as ambassador programs, work with consumer-generated media and more, can be highly valued by product, social media and performance marketers. Proconsumer WOM has been sugggested to act as counterbalance to commercially motivated word-of-mouth marketing.[5] Because of the personal nature of the communications between individuals, it is believed that they are more credible. Research points to individuals being more inclined to believe WOMM than more formal forms of promotion methods; the listener tends to believe that the communicator is being honest and doesn't have an ulterior motive (i.e. the receiver believes that the sender is not rewarded for engaging in WOM).[17] Word-of-mouth depends on the extent of customer satisfaction with the product or service,[18] and on the degree of its perceived value.[19]

To promote and manage word-of-mouth communications, marketers use publicity techniques as well as viral marketing methods to achieve desired behavioral response. Companies can focus on brand advocates, the people who proactively recommend their favorite brands and products online and offline without being paid to do so.[20] Influencer marketing is also increasingly used to seed WOMM by targeting key individuals who have authority and many personal connections.

Marketers place significant value on positive word-of-mouth, which is traditionally achieved by creating products, services and customer experiences that generate conversation-worthy "buzz" naturally.[21] The relatively new practice of word-of-mouth marketing attempts to inject positive "buzz" into conversations directly. While marketers have always hoped to achieve positive word-of-mouth, intentional marketing relying on such techniques is subject to regulation in some jurisdictions. For example, in the United States, deliberate efforts to generate beneficial consumer conversations must be transparent and honestly conducted in order to meet the requirements of Section 5 of the

  1. ^
  2. ^ Dichter, Ernest (1966). "How Word-of-Mouth Advertising Works". Harvard Business Review 44 (6): 147–166. 
  3. ^ Kietzmann, J.H., Canhoto, A. (2013). "Bittersweet! Understanding and Managing Electronic Word of Mouth" (PDF). Journal of Public Affairs 13 (2): 146–159.  
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c Lang, Bodo; Lawson, Rob (2013). "Dissecting Word-of-Mouth's Effectiveness and How to Use It as a Proconsumer Tool". Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing 25 (4): 374–399.  
  6. ^ Lang, Bodo; Hyde, Ken (2013). "Word of mouth: What we know and what we have yet to learn". Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior 26: 1–18. 
  7. ^ Lang, Bodo; Hyde, Ken (2013). "Word of mouth: What we know and what we have yet to learn". Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior 26: 3. 
  8. ^ Vansina, Jan: "Oral Tradition as History", 1985, James Currey Publishers, ISBN 0-85255-007-3, ISBN 978-0-85255-007-6; at page 27 and 28, where Vasina defines oral tradition as "verbal messages which are reported statements from the past beyond the present generation" which "specifies that the message must be oral statements spoken sung or called out on musical instruments only"; "There must be transmission by word of mouth over at least a generation". He points out that "Our definition is a working definition for the use of historians. Sociologists, linguists or scholars of the verbal arts propose their own, which in, e.g., sociology, stresses common knowledge. In linguistics, features that distinguish the language from common dialogue (linguists), and in the verbal arts features of form and content that define art (folklorists)".
  9. ^ Ki-Zerbo, Joseph: "Methodology and African Prehistory", 1990, UNESCO International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa; James Currey Publishers, ISBN 0-85255-091-X, 9780852550915; see Ch. 7; "Oral tradition and its methodology" at pages 54-61; at page 54: "Oral tradition may be defined as being a testimony transmitted verbally from one generation to another. Its special characteristics are that it is verbal and the manner in which it is transmitted."
  10. ^ Henige, David. Oral, but Oral What? The Nomenclatures of Orality and Their Implications Oral Tradition, 3/1-2 (1988): 229-38. p 232; Henige cites Jan Vansina (1985). Oral tradition as history. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
  11. ^ Degh, Linda. American Folklore and the Mass Media. Bloomington:IUP, 1994, p. 31
  12. ^ Dundes, Alan, "Editor’s Introduction" to "The Theory of Oral Composition", John Miles Foley. Bloomington, IUP, 1988, pp. ix-xii
  13. ^ Henige, David. Oral, but Oral What? The Nomenclatures of Orality and Their Implications Oral Tradition, 3/1-2 (1988): 229-38. p 232; Henige cites Jan Vansina (1985). Oral tradition as history. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
  14. ^ a b Oral History
  15. ^ Ong, Walter, S. J., "Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word". London: Methuen, 1982 p 12
  16. ^ Keakopa, M. (1998). The role of the archivist in the collection and preservation of oral traditions. S.A. Archives Journal, 40,87-93.
  17. ^ Grewal, R., T. W. Cline, and A. Davies, 2003. Early-Entrant Advantage, Word-of-Mouth Communication, Brand Similarity, and the Consumer Decision-Making Process. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13(3).
  18. ^ Stach, A. and A. Serenko, 2010. The Impact of Expectation Disconfirmation on Customer Loyalty and Recommendation Behavior: Investigating Online Travel and Tourism Services. Journal of Information Technology Management, XX(3), p. 26-41.
  19. ^ Turel, O., A. Serenko, and N. Bontis, 2010. User Acceptance of Hedonic Digital Artifacts: A Theory of Consumption Values Perspective. Information & Management, 47(1), p. 53-59.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Word of mouth advertising:
  22. ^ Laws Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission
  23. ^ Word of Mouth Marketing Association Ethics Code
  24. ^ American Marketing Association Best Practices for Word-of-Mouth Communications
  25. ^ "Social TV: "The Real Action is Not Online, It is Still Face-to-Face," says CBS’s Dave Poltrack - The Keller Fay Group". The Keller Fay Group. Retrieved 2015-09-14. 
  26. ^ "The Social Power of Television: What's In It For Advertisers - The Keller Fay Group". The Keller Fay Group. Retrieved 2015-09-14. 
  27. ^ "Results Worth Talking About: The ROI of WOM - WOMMA". WOMMA. Retrieved 2015-09-14. 
  28. ^ Zhang, Yinlong and Feick, Lawrence and Mittal, Vikas, How Males and Females Differ in Their Likelihood of Transmitting Negative Word of Mouth (2014). Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 40, April 2014. Available at SSRN:
  29. ^ Dolgin, Alexander (2008). The Economics of Symbolic Exchange. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 228.  
  30. ^ " 


See also

Long-established systems utilising word-of-mouth include:


Research has also shown important differences in WOM between males and females after they have a negative consumption experience.[28] Males, seem to always engage in higher negative-word-of-mouth (NWOM) when they have low image impairment concern, i.e., they are not worried that their image will be harmed in the eyes of word-of-mouth recipient. When image impairment concern is high, males always engage in lower levels of NWOM. In contrast, females engage in higher NWOM to those with whom they are close (strong ties), regardless of image impairment. Thus, when females are close to someone, they will tell them about negative product experiences without worrying how such communication will affect their image. Males on the other hand will not engage in NWOM if they think such NWOM will harm their image.

WOM and media are intertwined. Although WOM is seen by consumers as being different from and more credible than paid media, most instances of brands being mentioned in WOM refer to paid media and marketing touchpoints.[26] Furthermore, marketing mix modeling confirms the power of WOM (attributing 13% of sales across several industries), including a 15% uplift in paid-media effectiveness.[27] Thus, there can be synergy between WOM and other forms of marketing.

Despite the belief that most word of mouth is now online (or on mobile) the truth is the very opposite. The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science has shown that to achieve growth, brands must create word of mouth beyond core fan groups - meaning marketers should not focus solely on communities such as Facebook. Moreover, according to Deloitte further research has shown that ‘most advocacy takes place offline’ - instead it happens in person. According to the Journal of Advertising Research: 75% of all consumer conversations about brands happen face-to-face, 15% happen over the phone and just 10% online. This is backed up by research by WOM specialists, Keller Fay.[25]

A Nielsen global survey in 2013 found that word-of-mouth is not only the most trusted source of consumer information, but it is the most likely to be acted upon. [24][23]

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