Monday, August 22, 2005

Apple-to-Apple Comparisons for WOM White Paper

John Moore recently provided a follow-up post to his comments on my collaborative research project with BzzAgent and the results reported in the white paper entitled "The Value of Managed WOM". In his post he concluded that "the two samples appear too dissimilar to draw any empirical conclusions" regarding frequency data for the number of interactions, WOM episodes, and episode-to-interaction ratio (the percentage of a person's total interactions that include a WOM episode). Below is my comment that justifies why I think it is an apple-to-apple comparison.

Hi John,

I enjoyed reading your follow-up post about my WOM research project with BzzAgent. However I want to clear up a misunderstanding in your post. I did provide the additional demographic information on the BzzAgent sample, which was as you reported (though see next paragraph). However, in order to be able to make apple-to-apple comparisons I matched the BzzAgent sample to the "everyday people" convenience sample by age and education level. That is, from the total BzzAgent sample I created a sub-set of those agents with "Some College" and aged 18-29. This is reported in the white paper on Footnote #1 on page 3.

You are right in pointing out that there is a higher representation of females in the BzzAgent sub-set that I used to compare with the convenience sample (it's actually 88% [BzzAgent sub-set] to 74% [convenience sample] for the variables under consideration; let me know if you want more details about how these perecentages were determined). However, among both the BzzAgent sub-set and the everyday people convenience sample there were no statistically significant differences for the number of interactions, number of WOM episodes, and the episode-to-interaction ratio (the percentage of total interactions that included a WOM episode) based on sex of the respondent.

Therefore, I think one can safely conclude that the BzzAgent sub-set and the everyday people convenience sample is an apple-to-apple comparison based on education level, age, and sex.

Thanks again for your interest in this research!

Walter Carl

I would also note to John, and other interested readers, that a larger sample of "everyday people" (that is, those not affiliated with a word-of-mouth marketing agency) is warranted and anyone interested in helping to fund that study should contact me... everything is ready to go :-)