Year

2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Management, Operations and Marketing

Abstract

Consumers increasingly relied on Word-of-Mouth (WOM) and Electronic-Word-of-Mouth (eWOM) to make purchase decisions and share consumption experiences. However, the inconclusive views about the differences between WOM and eWOM, along with their associated issues suggested that studies in this domain are still underdeveloped. Particularly, the common understanding of these phenomena largely relied on the unsuitable process model of communication (i.e., Shannon and Weaver). This study showed the differences between WOM and eWOM along with their characteristics across different product types by using a well-established theory from linguistic domain, SFL.

The researcher took a mixed methods embedded design (Statistical and Linguistic) by conducting a 2x2 experiment and recruiting 40 participants. The results from the statistic stream showed that consumers’ WOM was not linguistically equivalent to eWOM. Furthermore, the results indicated that hedonic products were highly loaded with information and lexis in comparison to utilitarian products. The results from linguistic stream indicated that the differences in the peer-to-peer communication’s characteristics (e.g., tie-strength, valence) were likely to be an artefact of other factors like communication mediums (i.e., WOM and eWOM) or the service types (i.e., Hedonic and Utilitarian) being considered, not differences in the actual characteristics of message. Together, this research has made wide ranges of contributions. As such, this thesis: exposed the inappropriateness (appropriateness) of process model (SFL) for studying peer-to-peer communication (Theoretical), and assisted marketers (consumers) to know what criteria they needed to focus on when promoting (searching for) different products (Practical).

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