Understanding eWOM (electronic word of mouth) effect on consumer purchase decisions
Due to such multiplicative applications and benefits eWOM, the subject is getting increasing attention from scholars. Park and Lee argued that eWOM should not be considered as the as extension of digital commercial advertisements created by companies to push the brand rather eWOM should be viewed as non-commercial message created by external stakeholders of the company such as customers. According to Park and Lee, eWOM can be viewed as the word of mouth created by customers through sharing their direct or indirect experiences. Consideration research work of Park and Lee reveals the fact that eWOM might be created by customers to share their experience without having the knowledge that the sharing can influence purchasing decision of other customers who are going through the eWOM.
Hennig-Thurau et al. pointed out that most of researches in the field of eWOM focuses on issues like influence of word-of-mouth on purchase decision of consumers, factors directing consumer behaviour to use eWOM as reliable opinion leader, reliability of WOM in contrast to other marketing information etc. Bickart and Schindler pointed out that WOM should not be judged with other commercial advertisement of companies rather WOM should be judged in context to theory of planned behaviour concept. Interesting fact is that most of the research scholars conducted research on eWOM, failed to find any significant difference between effect of WOM and eWOM. These research scholars pointed out that WOM can create favourable or unfavourable message direction that can influence purchase intention and product attitude of customers. Chatterjee (2001) argued that consumers perceive WOM as more credible source to judge performance of the product rather than commercial advertisements. In modern days, eWOM can be used as exact alternative of WOM and customers are using eWOM to make purchase decision. So, is this assumption true that there is no difference between eWOM and WOM? Not actually, Park and Lee (2009) stated that eWOM differs from WOM in three aspects, 1- speed of interaction, 2- level interactivity and 3- communication in the virtual world. However, Golan and Zaidner (2008) criticized eWOM for creating confusion regarding credibility of the message among customers using it to know product experience of others. Yes, that is a basic problem with eWOM because text based recommendation messages are shared by anonymous individuals (in the age of competition, there are cyber professionals who get paid for spreading rumours and negative feedback about a brand); hence, it becomes difficult for readers of the text message to check the credibility of the source. These factors should be considered while discussing role of eWOM on consumer purchase decisions. According to Golan and Zaidner (2008), customers still face dilemma in trusting the online text recommendations or eWOM when it comes to making purchase decision and such level of dilemma is directed by perceived social or psychological risk. It is evident from the above