E-WOM Scale: Word-of-Mouth Measurement Scale for E-Services Context*

Article excerpt

Abstract

In this article, using data from a survey of 218 consumers across two samples, we propose a measurement scale for word of mouth (e-WOM scale) in the context of electronic service. A battery of statistical tests reveals that the WOM construct encompasses four dimensions: WOM intensity, positive valence WOM, negative valence WOM, and WOM content. Our proposed e-WOM scale can be used as a strategic tool for business managers aiming to improve their word-of-mouth marketing strategies.

Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

JEL Classifications: M31, L81, C3

Keywords: word-of-mouth, e-WOM scale, marketing, Internet, structural equations

Résumé

Dans cet article, nous proposons, à partir d'une enquête réalisée auprès de 218 répondants, une échelle de mesure du concept de bouche-à-oreille (échelle BAO ou e-WOM scale) dans le contexte de services électroniques. La batterie de tests statistiques réalisés révèle que le concept de BAO comprend quatre dimensions, à savoir : l'intensité du BAO, la polarité positive du BAO, lapolarité négative du BAO et le contenu du BAO. L'échelle de mesure proposée peut être utilisée comme un outil stratégique par les gestionnaires d' entreprises de services en ligne désireux d'améliorer leurs stratégies de marketing en matière de bouche-à-oreille. Copyright © 2010 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Mots clés : Bouche-à-oreille, e-WOM scale, marketing, Internet, équations structurelles

Word-of-mouth (WOM) is probably the oldest means of exchanging opinions on various goods and services offered by markets. At one time, word-of-mouth occurred mostly among neighbours exchanging news on what was being offered by neighbourhood stores (Whyte, 1954). As early as 1955, Katz and Lazarsfeld believed that word-of-mouth was seven times more effective than newspaper ads, four times more effective than direct sales, and twice as effective as radio advertising. Later, Day ( 1 97 1 ) estimated that word-of-mouth was nine times more effective than advertising in changing consumer attitudes, whereas Morin (1983) showed that "other people's recommendations" were three times more effective in terms of stimulating purchases of over 60 different products than was advertising. According to Reicheld (1996), these effects are amplified by a higher degree of customer loyalty and profitability. Today, many researchers continue to maintain that word-ofmouth constitutes one of the most effective ways of attracting and keeping customers (Duhan, Johnson, Wilcox, & Harrell, 1997).

Studies on word-of-mouth have demonstrated that its effectiveness is based on the overwhelming influence that it has on consumer behaviour. Researchers have shown that word-of-mouth was strongly and positively associated with clients' levels of trust (Bergeron, Ricard, & Perrien, 2003), service quality (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1988), satisfaction (Anderson, 1998), perceived value (Hartline & Jones, 1996), relationship quality (Boles, Barksdale, & Johnson, 1997), and with clients' intention to purchase (Crocker, 1986).

In today's virtual era, the power of word-of-mouth has grown exponentially. For example, the international bank HSBC announced in the summer of 2007 that it was introducing a charge of 9.9% interest for each student account (previously free) with a balance of under 1,500 pounds Sterling (approx. CAD 3000). The National Union of Students (NUS) immediately created a group on the Facebook website to bring together the largest possible number of students opposed to this change of policy at HSBC. In a few short weeks, the power of virtual word-of-mouth managed to mobilize 5,000 students on summer break, each threatening to boycott or to change bank. Under pressure, HSBC reversed the change, indicating it had "answered the needs of its customers."

Although many studies target WOM, very few have focused on a measure of word-of-mouth, especially in the context of e-services. …