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Leveraging Word of Mouth
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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What happens when you tell a story? Well, the person who receives the story gets information and insight that you have gathered and analyzed. If it was about a restaurant experience or a store that had those jeans that fit you perfectly, no doubt that person will probably consider visiting those places. 

But what happens to the experience when you tell it? That is the question that Sarah Moore of the Alberta School of Business wanted to answer. Moore believes that the answer may give insight into how the storyteller's behavior changes and how the telling of the story may influence future word-of-mouth activities.

The answer to her question is an interesting one. Based on her research, the more we talk about an emotional experience, whether positive or negative, the more the emotion of the experience fades away. So if we absolutely loved a customer-service experience at a certain store and the more we tell others about it, the less attached we become. Likewise, if we had a bad experience at a restaurant, the more we share our experience, the more we are likely to try it again. Moore continues saying that because we have to think about the experience and analyze it in order to tell the story, the less emotionally attached we become to it. She added that is why there is a saying to not analyze love. 

"Don't think about it. Just relive it."

Practical experiences, though, follow a different path. Moore called them "cognitive experiences" because these activities related to a specific purpose. The research indicates that there is a positive correlation between thinking more about the practical experience and the way we felt about it. Meaning, if we had a positive experience doing the task, the more we think about it and the more we are re-affirming our feelings about it. Moore said that in this case the analysis and rationalization amplify our feelings about the cognitive activity.

This study can help advertising professionals receive better feedback from consumers and can improve the market research process before any kind of advertising hits the streets. What Moore concluded is true; consumers want to preserve positive experiences and get over negative ones, just like businesses. Advertising can continue emphasizing the emotional experience in some cases, and, when applicable, demonstrate and positive experiences on the cognitive level.

The research suggests that AdLand may want position the brands in the practical experience arena, for if positive experiences are amplified, this study could provide a roadmap to customer loyalty. Tying this insight with the value speak we suggested before, and we may be onto a breakthrough that marketing scientists have been drooling over for decades.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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