New Study: Most Word of Mouth is Positive. Here’s What it Means.


Keller Fay Group released a study today…here are the stats. The most interesting finding, in my opinion, is at the bottom.

  • The average American discusses specific brands in ordinary discussion 56 times per week.
  • 72% of opinions about brands are shared by family members and personal friends, 13% are shared by co-workers and 7% are shared by a professional or expert on the topic.
  • 2 in 5 (41%) conversations about brands involve a reference to something seen or heard in the media or in marketing material, with 15% of such discussions referencing an advertisement, 8% referencing some form of editorial or entertainment content, 5% referencing information at the point of purchase and 4% referencing a coupon or other promotion.
  • The Internet (12%), television (7%) and newspapers (5%) are the top three media channels most frequently referenced in brand-related buzz.
  • 92% of word of mouth conversations take place offline, with 71% of word of mouth taking place in person and 21% taking place by phone.
  • Email, instant message and online chat rooms/blogs comprise 6% of word of mouth.
  • 62% of marketing-relevant discussion is described as “mostly positive,” while only 9% is described as “mostly negative.”

This last finding flys in the face of conventional wisdom (or old studies), that most word of mouth is negative. What this means for marketers is we will see greater separation from great products vs. mediocre. This will reinforce, like a snowball, that word of mouth is how more and more people will find the products they should buy. The best products will sell more, the worst will sell less. Smart companies will grok this, change something, and be part of the 62% (which I bet will grow).

4 Responses

  1. Digressions says:

    3 Questions with BazaarVoice VP Sam Decker

    Word of mouth marketing – this is the essence of Sam Decker these days. Sam has spent his career as a marketing leader maximizing technology and online business results. Sam is now bringing his expertise into the market as the

  2. Walter Carl says:

    Hi Sam,
    I wonder if the finding that 62% of WOM episodes being “mostly positive” goes against convential wisdom or old studies. Are you referring to studies, like TARP’s 1982 report with Coca-Cola, that people pass-along negative WOM to more people than positive WOM? I’m not sure though that such findings imply that most WOM is negative.
    In my research of both everyday people and word-of-mouth marketing agents I’ve also found that the majority of WOM is positive (see the “What’s All the Buzz About?” study at my download page: ).
    I think you’re right though that increasingly more people are learning, and will continue to learn, about brands from other people and let’s hope that this serves as a form of quality control! 🙂

  3. Ann Handley says:

    Sam — This comment doesn’t have much to do with this specific post: it’s simply an observation. It’s funny that you say in this post, “The most interesting finding, in my opinion, is at the bottom,” when the Decker Marketing blog is in the bottom spot in the “Top 25 Marketing Blogs” put together by Mack Collier at The Viral Garden.
    So I agree with you (in a totally different context) — sometimes there’s some good stuff at the bottom.
    Like your blog — and congrats for making the cut.

  4. Bernie says:

    The “new” data trends are likely to be a change in attitudes of the younger demographics. Per GenX er’s love to complain, and do so about everyting. So in the past, people dominated their conversations with their experiences with poor servics, quality, dissapointments, etc., The more common attribute is to focus on the positive – got a great deal, great service, love these features, found a new tool.
    Perhaps 30 yeats ago, people expected good service and were really upset to be consistently dissapointed. The successive generations grew up with that bad service (or self service), and expect it as the norm. When they actually get good service they are pleasant surprised and tell their friends about it.

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