Bentley College Marketing- Honors

This blog is for MK 402-H01 and the greater Bentley College population.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Review of "Word of mouth marketing is not hampered by disclosure" by Francois Gossieaux

Word of mouth (WOM) marketing has become very popular recently. As a marketing student, I find it hard to determine if WOM is a growing trend or if it has always been popular, yet not talked about as widely or frequently. WOMMA, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, aims to grow WOM marketing so that it is no longer regarded as just a natural phenomenon, but rather an integral part of marketing plans. With the advances in technology that have significantly increased communication, WOM has become more prevalent in marketing. It makes sense – use your most loyal customers to spread the word to people they know. However, many people have seen some issues associated with WOM such as accountability, measurability, and credibility.
This posting informs marketing because it is commenting on one of the main issues of WOM – credibility and disclosure. It would be instinct to think that if someone disclosed that they were “working” for a particular company to promote its product that the person that they were spreading the word to would be turned off by that fact. However, Francois cites a recent study conducted at Northeastern University that revealed the opposite. Respondents said that if someone was known to be affiliated with a company it was a “non-issue” and that “the rate at which messages were passed along was 70% higher when the relationship was disclosed.” This is an interesting finding for marketers implementing WOM because normally the relationship wouldn’t be disclosed.
The article does not give any detailed explanation to why this finding may have resulted in the study. I would tend to think that if someone mentions they are working for a particular brand, then the person they are informing about the brand will remember the conversation more and take into consideration that the person is so brand loyal that they are willing to “work” for that particular brand. This differs from the traditional scenario where the WOM person may in fact say the same exact thing, but the receiver of this information regards it as any type of conversation. When the person discloses that they are actually “working” by spreading WOM, this calls additional attention to the brand, making the receiver of the information more likely to remember it.
One thing Francois could have done to improve it would be to better explain how WOM is currently perceived in the marketing industry and mention past research that has been done on this topic. I am curious to know if this new study citing that disclosure will not hurt a WOM campaign contradicts any past studies. Since of the main issues with WOM is its measurability, it would be helpful to know what kind of measures this study used; it must be difficult to implement measures in a study on something that is difficult to measure to begin with!
Also, Francois does not offer any insight into the real significance of this finding. Rather, it just states the results of the study. It would have been helpful to see what he saw as implications from this study.


Blogger Walter Carl said...

Hi Melissa,

I noticed your posting on disclosure and WOM marketing. The Northeastern University study mentioned in the blog posting you reviewed -- "To Tell Or Not To Tell" -- is available at my download page if you are interested. Also, I have posted some additional commentary on my own blog that speaks to some of your questions. More specifically you might want to check out the following post: "Explanation for Counter-Intuitive Findings in 'To Tell Or Not To Tell?'".

Best wishes with your class blog!

Sunday, February 05, 2006 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Francois Gossieaux said...

This is a cool project! I am also honored to have been chosen as a blog to follow.

I engaged in the conversation by posting a piece on my blog (

If you guys have any other thoughts - let me know. I am local as well.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 10:57:00 AM  

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