Following the Blind: How Expertise and Endorsement Style Impact Word of Mouth Persuasion

61 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2015 Last revised: 7 Jul 2015

See all articles by Grant M. Packard

Grant M. Packard

Wilfrid Laurier University - Lazaridis School of Business & Economics

Jonah A. Berger

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department

Date Written: June 5, 2015

Abstract

Word of mouth is thought to help consumers make better choices. But could the way different types of consumers endorse products sometimes lead word of mouth recipients to make worse choices than they would have otherwise? Five studies, including textual analysis of almost 1,000 online reviews, demonstrate that the language more and less knowledgeable consumers tend to use when endorsing products shapes word of mouth’s impact. Because novices are less aware that others have heterogeneous product preferences, they tend to use more explicit “I recommend” language when endorsing products. Compared to more implicit endorsements (e.g., “I liked it” or “I enjoyed it”), explicit recommendations are more persuasive and increase purchase intent. Because novices also tend to choose inferior products, word of mouth recipients may unintentionally tend to follow the advice of novices, and make sub-optimal choices as a result.

Keywords: word of mouth, word of mouth content, consumer knowledge, language, social perception, persuasion, marketing, consumer behavior

JEL Classification: C91, M3, M30, M39, M31

Suggested Citation

Packard, Grant M. and Berger, Jonah A., Following the Blind: How Expertise and Endorsement Style Impact Word of Mouth Persuasion (June 5, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2615023 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2615023

Grant M. Packard (Contact Author)

Wilfrid Laurier University - Lazaridis School of Business & Economics ( email )

75 University Ave West
Waterloo, ON
Canada

Jonah A. Berger

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States

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