Chapter 15: The Role of e-WOM in International Communication
Salvador Ruiz, María Sicilia, Inés López and Manuela López INTRODUCTION Word of mouth (WOM) represents a low-cost and trustworthy channel for acquiring and retaining customers (Villanueva et al. 2008). It is an informal mode of communication between non-commercial parties concerning the evaluation of products and services (Arndt, 1967). Its relevance in evaluation makes it a key element to the exchange process because consumers often rely on others for assistance with purchases, especially for products with high financial or psychic risk (Gershoff and Johar, 2006). With the fast growth and proliferation of e-commerce, the Web has become an excellent source for gathering consumer opinions about products (Duan et al. 2008). Through product review websites (e.g., epinions. com, rateitall.com, cnet.com), on discussion boards or Usenet via Google Groups, or even in personal blogs (aggregated through various platforms), consumers can express their opinions and experiences about products and brands. This activity has also been propelled by manufacturers and retailers, as they have started to provide online forums that allow customers to express their opinions about the products they sell. This access to online comments is based on consumers’ interactions with one another quickly and conveniently, in a new form of word of mouth based on online interpersonal influence known as electronic word of mouth (e-WOM) (Goldenberg et al. 2001). The industry and part of the literature have addressed the classification of common types of WOM marketing activities. Terms such as buzz marketing, viral marketing, grassroots marketing and evangelist marketing...
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