Academic journal article Journal of Competitiveness Studies

Electronic Word of Mouth (Ewom) and Its Effect on Consumers' Decisions to Buy Products and Services in Traditional Stores in Jordan

Academic journal article Journal of Competitiveness Studies

Electronic Word of Mouth (Ewom) and Its Effect on Consumers' Decisions to Buy Products and Services in Traditional Stores in Jordan

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The diffusion of information technology and the adoption of the internet in our everyday activities affect the way people spend their time and the way they interact with others. One form of interaction that has developed in the last few years and which has had a tremendous effect on peoples' social interaction is the use of social networks. Virtual communities like Facebook, Twitter and social blogs constitute important mediums of communication. In these virtual communities, people tend to build close groups, which they trust and with whom they share their opinions and interests. The sharing of groups' ideas affects the way people think, negotiate, express their feelings and make decisions. This interpersonal communication between people over the internet and through the use of different electronic devices is known as electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) (Henning-Thrau et al., 2004). eWOM has an important influence on consumers' evaluation of products and buying decision. Consumers visit review websites, social networks and social blogs with questions about products and services before buying a product. This makes eWOM an important factor in the buying decision and a major source of information (Duan et al., 2008). Marketers and online business owners have realized the power of eWOM in motivating and influencing consumers' decisions and preferences, especially when it comes to communication between people with no prior relationship (O'Reilly & Marx, 2011).

Current studies have concentrated on investigating the influence of eWOM in the western world and very limited, if any, attention has been paid to investigating this phenomenon in the Middle East. The limited amount of investigation of eWOM effect on consumer behavior in Middle Eastern countries has motivated the researcher to investigate this area of research. This research will help toward gaining an understanding of how eWOM can enable decision-makers to better communicate their messages and ideas to prospects by using social media and online communities, with the intention of changing their minds and affecting their decisions. This study will also help marketers and business owners understand the best way to build close trusted relationships with prospects through understanding those factors that affect building such a relationship, which will enable decision makers to better anticipate changes in peoples' decisions and prepare them to be proactive.

This paper is organized as follows: first, the researcher reviews the literature on electronic word of mouth (eWOM) and the factors affecting the effectiveness of eWOM. Second, the researcher introduces the research hypotheses and methodology. Lastly, the researcher lists findings and discusses both the academic and practical implications of the study.

Importance and Purpose of this Research

In Jordan, the widespread use of the internet continues to grow. Despite the difficulties reported by some researchers such as trust, security and technology acceptance in Jordan, the number of people using the internet has been increasing dramatically (Abbad et al., 2011; Yasin & Yavas, 2007). The Department of Statistics (2013) reported that Jordan has now 4.3 million internet users, which constitutes about 62% of the country's seven million population. Another study conducted by the Telecommunication Organizing Commission of Jordan (TOC) ( Alsardia & Hartini, 2013) shows that the number of cell phones subscriptions sold in the Kingdom has exceeded nine million and includes a spread of third and fourth generation services (3G+ and 4G+ technology). Mobile phones are in demand due to low rates offered by telecommunication companies who operate in a highly competitive environment strictly governed by government regulations.

The internet has become a major part of the average Jordanian's life. Though electronic commerce is still facing difficulties in Jordan (Abbad et al., 2011) and the adoption of internet buying is still a challenge for many Jordanians (Alkailani & Kumar, 2010), which could be attributed to " non-people" factors, Jordanians still use the internet heavily at work and at home. …

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