First a refresher – the Keller Fay group came out with a study that found that 92% of word of mouth (wom) happens offline and that positive wom outnumbers negative wom 6 to 1. I argued that online negative word of mouth might have a more devastating effect on buying decisions because the buyer is in a more active buying mode when searching for information than when being the recipient of positive wom at a cocktail reception.
Pete Blackshaw wrote a great piece commenting on the same study and concluding that “incidental” word of mouth – which is mostly negative and online – might indeed have a bigger impact on buying decisions than positive offline “intimate” word of mouth. Walter Carl from Northeastern university responds with a call for more research. Interestingly enough, he also lists the primary motivations for people to spread negative WOM – altruism, anxiety-reduction, advice-seeking, and vengeance.
All in all I wonder if the studies take into account that online negative word of mouth repeats itself – so while I may only have left one bad review of Mercedes online, the fact that 5,000 people read it , and that search engines keep sending 20-40 people a day to read it, is the same as if I would have told the story 5,000 times, and still tell it 20-40 times a day.