Visual Cues

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Jonah Berger and Eric M. Schwartz (2011). What Drives Immediate and Ongoing Word of Mouth? Journal of Marketing Research, 48 (5), 869-880.


Word of mouth (WOM) affects diffusion and sales, but why are certain products talked about more than others, both right after consumers first experience them and in the months that follow? this article examines psychological drivers of immediate and ongoing WOM. The authors analyze a unique data set of everyday conversations for more than 300 products and conduct both a large field experiment across various cities and a controlled laboratory experiment with real conversations.

The results indicate that more interesting products get more immediate WOM but, contrary to intuition, do not receive more ongoing WOM over multiple months or overall.

In contrast, products that are cued more by the environment or are more publicly visible receive more WOM both right away and over time.

Additional analyses demonstrate which promotional giveaways in WOM marketing campaigns are associated with increased WOM. Overall, the findings shed light on psychological drivers of WOM and provide insight into designing more effective WOM campaigns.