Brands and word of mouth (WOM) are cornerstones of the marketing field, and yet their relationship has received relatively little attention. This study aims to enhance understanding of brand characteristics as antecedents of WOM by executing a comprehensive empirical analysis. For this purpose, the authors constructed a unique data set on online and offline WOM and characteristics for more than 600 of the most talked-about U.S. brands. To guide this empirical analysis, they present a theoretical framework arguing that consumers spread WOM on brands as a result of social, emotional, and functional drivers. Using these drivers, the authors identify a set of 13 brand characteristics that stimulate WOM, including three (level of differentiation, excitement, and complexity) that have not been studied to date as WOM antecedents. The authors find that whereas the social and functional drivers are the most important for online WOM, the emotional driver is the most important for offline WOM. These results provide an insightful perspective on WOM and have meaningful managerial implications for brand management and investment in WOM campaigns.
In word-of-mouth seeding programs, customer word of mouth can generate value through market expansion; in other words, it can gain customers who would not otherwise have bought the product. Alternatively, word of mouth can generate value by accelerating the purchases of customers who would have purchased anyway. This article presents the first investigation exploring how acceleration and expansion combine to generate value in a word-of-mouth seeding program for a new product. The authors define a program's "social value" as the global change, over the entire social system, in customer equity that can be attributed to the word-of-mouth program participants. They compute programs' social value in various scenarios using an agent-based simulation model and empirical connectivity data on 12 social networks in various markets as input to the simulation. The authors show how expansion and acceleration integrate to create programs' social value and illustrate how the role of each is affected by factors such as competition, program targeting, profit decline, and retention. These results have substantial implications for the design and evaluation of word-of-mouth marketing programs and of the profit impact of word of mouth in general.
Many of the products introduced during the past two decades have been services rather than goods. An important influence on the growth and long-term profits of these services is customer attrition, which can occur at the category level (disadoption) or between firms (churn). However, the literature has rarely modeled how services penetrate a market and has not evaluated the effect of attrition on growth. The authors combine diffusion modeling with a customer relationship approach to investigate the influence of attrition on growth in service markets. In particular, the authors model the effects of disadoption and churn on evolution of a category and on growth of individual firms in a competitive environment. The authors show how neglecting disadoption can bias parameter estimation and, especially, market potential. They also derive an expression for the customer equity of a growing service firm and apply it to valuation of firms operating in competitive industries. The results for six of seven firms in four service categories are remarkably close to stock market valuations, an indicator for the role of customer equity in valuations of growing service firms.
Brands stand at the core of marketing. They are central to positioning, marketing communications, word of mouth, customer relationships, and firm profits. Brands have been studied from multiple perspectives using a variety of measures and scales. We offer a data set that contains 136 different measures of the brand characteristics for almost 700 of the top U.S. national brands across 16 categories measured by 2010. These measures cover a broad range of characteristics including brand personality, satisfaction, age, attributes related to Rogers' innovation scheme such as complexity, and the four brand equity pillars of Young and Rubicam's BrandAsset Valuator. The data were collected from a combination of sources including an original survey on 4,769 subjects. In addition, we provide quarterly data on the variables available from the BrandAsset Valuator for two and a half years between 2008 and 2010. These data can be used as a building block in research that aims to explore the antecedents of brand perceptions or connect brand characteristics with market and financial outcomes. This paper describes the data and some relevant research questions. Data, as supplemental material, are available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mksc.2014.0861 .
Consumer-generated communication processes have drawn increasing attention of marketers and researchers. However, an underresearched issue is that interpersonal communications are not always brand specific. Thus, a person can adopt a brand either as a result of communication with adopters of that brand (within-brand influence) or as a result of an interaction with adopters of competing brands (cross-brand influence). This study shows that the interplay between within-and cross-brand influence can have a substantial effect on the growth of markets under competition. The authors develop a model that explicitly represents these two influences and focus on the case of two otherwise identical competing brands with different entry times. As a result of within-brand influence, current customers create an interaction-based advantage for the first entrant, which grows with time. Thus, we illustrate how customers should be viewed as market assets who yield increasing returns during the diffusion process. Conversely, cross-brand influence enables a market follower to enjoy a shorter takeoff time. Given the combination of both, the authors predict the "dual pattern," characterized by a fast takeoff for a follower, followed by a widening gap in favor of the first entrant, all else being equal. They show that such a pattern dominated the market growth of the cellular industry in Western Europe. They explain the reasons behind this dual pattern, rule out straightforward alternative explanations, and discuss the managerial implications. ; the three anonymous JM reviewers; and seminar participants at
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