Sunday, July 20, 2008

WOM and Academic Textbooks

Just as there has been a resurgence of interest in WOM over the past few years by those in industry circles and popular press books we can also see a similar effect for academic textbooks. In the past few months I've received a number of inquiries from faculty at other universities who are interested in syllabi and textbooks for classes on WOM and social media. I also just formally reviewed a book for a publishing company who was attempting to determine if they should work with the authors on publishing their manuscript.

Even more recently a co-authored book on consumer behavior from a colleauge (Robert East at Kingston University in the UK) has been released. It's called Consumer Behaviour: Applications in Marketing and is published by Sage (here's the link at Amazon). As you can surmise by the title it's broader than just WOM, but Chapter 11 is exclusively devoted to the topic, and it is sprinkled throughout the rest of the text as well (most other academic textbooks have sections of specific chapters about WOM, rather than a full chapter, so this is worth remarking on).

Below is a list of the learning objectives in the chapter and then a few specific things I think people will be interested in knowing about. The learning objectives are phrased, like in most textbooks, as "When you have completed this chapter, you should be able to:"

  1. Discuss the difficulty of conducting research on WOM;
  2. Describe how product decisions in different categories are affected by WOM;
  3. Report on the relative occurence and impact of positive and negative WOM in familiar categories;
  4. Describe variations in WOM that affect its impact: solicited or volunteered; strongly or mildly expressed; from people who are close or distant from the receiver;
  5. Report how WOm relates to the current and past usage of brands and to market share;
  6. Suggest how marketers might apply knowledge about WOM.
And I think people will be especially interested that the authors present evidence that clears up some popular misconceptions about WOM. The authors contend the following:
  1. It is not true that negative WOM is more common or more powerful than positive WOM;
  2. It is not true that most WOM is driven primarily by satisfaction or dissatisfaction (though these are often involved);
  3. It is not true that long-term customers usually recommend more than short-term customers.
To see the evidence for these and other insights you'll have to read the chapter... I definitely recommend it!