Disney, Coca-Cola, Nike, Adidas. How do they all relate? They relate through the idea of an everlasting brand. Some brands reach a point of affinity that will likely last forever. But how is this everlasting presence achieved? How is it maintained? The answer lay within the realm of “word of mouth” marketing, “WOM” for short, and its 21st century offspring e-WOM “electronic word of mouth” marketing.
The idea of word of mouth marketing has existed as long as the creation of civilization. But the thought of it being something other than verbal communication was unheard of until the brilliant innovations created in the 20th century. When televisions and radios became common household goods, there was a shift in the way messages could be sent and received. We no longer only hear of the experiences that close friends and relatives have with certain products. Now we can hear testimonies from strangers who have tried and evaluated a product, giving their honest opinions on the practicality of products and services. We have discovered e-WOM.
Moving forward into the 21st century with the creation of Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and dozens more social media platforms, we see an integrated world no longer limited by spotty reception and postal shipping times. We are seeing communication happening constantly with individuals who are all over the world. Now we see electronic word of mouth marketing really take flight.
Social media e-WOM has been linked to higher customer purchase intentions than advertisements have, “e-WOM is positively related to purchase intentions and has a greater effect on purchase intentions than ads” (POTURAK, 2019). Lending itself to the idea that whether positive or negative, e-WOM can directly influence the purchasing choices of consumers more directly than traditional advertising. This is an interesting phenomena and is largely attributed to the perspective that consumers trust the opinions of their peers and will make decisions based off of their input and experiences.
When reviewing large brands such as Nike and Adidas multiple aspects of word of mouth marketing play roles. Brand equity, brand awareness, and brand association are all varying but important positions to observe as marketer and purchaser. “Brand equity gives value to the firm by increasing the effectiveness of marketing programs. The components of brand equity allow a firm to develop a competitive advantage over other players. Ultimately that leads to higher price earnings ratios and enhanced shareholder value, achieved because of brand loyalty of customers” (Padhy & Sawlikar, 2018). Having a trustworthy and quality motivated business model is effective in reaching and maintaining loyal customers. Having a clean trustworthy perception in the minds of the consumer grows lasting and loyal customers.
Brand awareness plays into the relevance of brand equity defined as; “the ability of the potential buyer to recognize and recall that a brand is a member of a certain product category”(Aaker, 1991). When buying athletic shoes we look for Nike, they know that we know, they are the ones creating great athletic products. Brand association follows similar footsteps, basically linking memory to a brand. When you were a kid and played sports you bought the Nike athletic shoes, now you are buying them for your child because those are the ones you remember liking the best.
So when reviewing firm generated WOM content (content created by the brand in interest for the brand) and user generated WOM content (content created by the consumer in reflection of the brand) is there a correlation in the efficiency at which these mediums attract or distract potential clients?
Firm generated content has high reciprocal of appreciation from already loyal customers and fans. Individuals who are already purchasers of a brand’s product are much more likely to agree and spread brand content that they find resonating with their self-interests. The issues I foresee with firm generated content is that all the content feels like an advertisement. When viewing social media content I am likely to scroll over any post that says “sponsored” because I do not wish to be coerced into purchasing something.
When reviewing user generated content it seems much more likely to persuade or change one’s mind, especially when the post is not a sponsored message. When participating on social media I find it interesting to listen to other persons who have experience with a particular product or brand. These reviews are often genuine and accurate to what they have experienced. I would say that user generated content is much more likely to bring new clientele and create loyal customers, largely because the message doesn’t feel like an ad even if it is discussing a product.
In efforts of producing more e-WOM for the brand we may consider two simple approaches to facilitate this dialogue. First, brands might consider making comments on competitors posts, bringing attention to themselves and opening discussion between rival supporters and potentially swaying some opinions over to their side. Second, brands may consider donating to or sponsoring a nonprofit organization on social media that is in an entirely different product or service area than themselves. This raises brand awareness and shows the good intentions of the brand bringing in consumer appreciation.
In conclusion social media e-WOM has proven to be a useful catalyst for consumer penetration in the digital age. Firm generated content spreads brand equity and directly translates the brands interests and direction of change. Providing a firsthand look at how the brand is progressing and adapting to environmental change and pressures. User generated content expands the brands awareness among consumers, allowing unique growth towards thoughts and perceptions of the brands image and relevance to probability of consumption. Both areas facilitate the brands interest and promote the consumption and awareness of their products.
POTURAK, M., SOFTIĆ, S., & International Burch University. (2019). Influence of social media content on consumer purchase intention: Mediation effect of brand equity. Eurasian Journal of Business and Economics, 12(23), 17-43. doi:10.17015/ejbe.2019.023.02
Written by Sam Childers. You can learn more about Sam and our other blogwriters by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!