Today word-of-mouth marketing includes several categories of communication such as buzz, blogs, and viral marketing where Internet communities and other interactive social media are utilised for word-of-mouth marketing. Influencer marketing is another form of word-of-mouth marketing wherein personalities who are believed to be highly influential over the target audience are made use of for promotion of products and services.
Word-of-mouth marketing has gained a great deal of importance as a marketing technique due to its effectiveness, which in turn is due to its credibility. This is because word-of-mouth communication is considered to be honest and without any selfish motive. This credibility is what is made use of by marketers who use the technique of the word of mouth. People usually ask other people like their friends, family, colleagues and others, whom they trust, when they decide to purchase something and before they begin to look for what brand or label to buy. Word-of-mouth marketing is actually "giving people a reason to talk about your stuff, and making it easier for that conversation to take place" (Sernovitz, 2006, p.3). As simply put by Sernovitz (2006, p.3), "it is everything you can do to get people talking."
People are more often than not buying a product not in response to the marketing campaigns of the product, but in response to what other people may be talking about the product. Research shows that people gather information from marketing materials and then talk the products over with their friends, family or other close associates. Then they make a decision about buying the product in response to what others say about the product (Silverman, 2001, p.6). Hence marketers have realized that the best way to increase sales of their products is by getting the customers to sell them. Word-of-mouth communication is now the focal point of marketing and the most effective method for sales promotion.
Another factor that increases the significance of the word of mouth is that we are now in the information age where we are overwhelmed with more information than we can handle. This, in addition to busy schedules, leaves no time for extensive research, investigation and deliberation. Hence traditional advertising is on the decline and the word of mouth has become a necessary time saver (Silverman, 2001, p.10).
Impact of the word of mouth in marketing
There are several factors that render the word of mouth very powerful and effective. The most significant factor is that the word-of-mouth communication can be very influential and can persuade a prospective buyer to buy a product. Another factor is that the word of mouth communication is based on personal experience and therefore the possibility of expected result is very high. The independent nature of the word-of-mouth communication makes it more credible. Besides, while word-of-mouth communication is custom-made, relevant and complete, it is self-generating and self-breeding, growing exponentially and sometimes explosively (Silverman, 2001, p.37). It has unlimited speed and scope, and is "very inexpensive to stimulate, amplify and sustain" (Silverman, 2001, p.37). Word-of-mouth co