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Media Release

June 20 2011

Word-of-mouth - the next big thing or just hot air?

UniSA’s Jenni Romaniuk, Associate Research Professor for Brand Equity and the Associate Director (International) at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, said word-of-mouth’s strength lies in the fact it comes from independent advocates who aren’t involved with the brand or product, but that is also a challenge, because marketers want to try to influence it.Word-of-mouth marketing, when customers recommend a brand, product or service, is a hot topic for all businesses, and now a leading brand expert will separate fact from fiction in a free public lecture this Thursday.
 
UniSA’s Jenni Romaniuk, Associate Research Professor for Brand Equity and the Associate Director (International) at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, said word-of-mouth’s strength lies in the fact it comes from independent advocates who aren’t involved with the brand or product, but that is also a challenge, because marketers want to try to influence it.
 
“Marketers are trying to influence word-of-mouth; companies are investing in programs to generate 'buzz' and get consumers talking about the brand,” said Associate Professor Romaniuk.
 
“Word-of-mouth is usually split into two areas. One is specific recommendation, when you tell someone to buy or go to see something, for example.
 
“The other side of word-of-mouth is conversation, which may lead to someone explicitly choosing it or being more likely to choose it, but it is not a direct call to action from the person who’s giving the word-of-mouth. That usually involves giving people something to talk about, a story.”
 
Word-of-mouth has always been considered very powerful, but quantifying that power has proved a challenge because it happens in conversations where marketers cannot record it. However, the internet and social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook now provide increased opportunity to observe online conversations about brands.
 
Prof Romaniuk said the online world has made word-of-mouth more tangible and provided marketers with more insight.
 
“Twitter and Facebook have made word-of-mouth more real,” she said.
 
“Previously marketers relied on what people said they talked about, but now we can actually see some of what they are talking about. This has led to a lot more opportunity for us to study, for example, the content. What do people say when they talk about brands?
 
“One thing we do know about online which is contrary to common belief is that most word-of-mouth online is between people who know each other.  A lot of it is just people having conversations. Two of the most common triggers for word-of-mouth are wanting to help someone and it just came up in conversation.
 
“My lecture will look at why people give word-of-mouth and how recipients react to what they hear, as well as giving insider information on things like whether it’s true that those with something negative to say will tell three times as many people as those with something positive to say.”

 Prof Romaniuk’s lecture, Word-of-mouth marketing, social networking and the internet, is on Thursday June 23 at the Allan Scott Auditorium, Hawke Building, City West campus, at 6pm. Registrations are now full, but a vodcast of this lecture will be available on July 4 at http://www.unisa.edu.au/knowledgeworks/default.asp.

 




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