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About this book

Practically every marketing trade journal is buzzing “word of mouth” these days. Many practitioners consider peer-to-peer communication to be the new panacea for many, if not all of the problems that advertising is currently facing. The academic community has also rediscovered the subject as one that is highly relevant and crying out for scientific investigation and substantiation. However, four years ago, when Martin Oetting began his research project, this was not at all clear. He was intrigued by the early, weak signals he had picked up during his professional career in advert- ing, and he was motivated by a strong belief in the value of his overall ideas. He - cided to embark on a research project that has become a most valuable contribution to the field of word-of-mouth marketing. In choosing a topic well before it would - come of mainstream interest, Martin Oetting proved that he is sensitive to market d- continuities, and to the potential they provide for academic research. In his dissertation, Oetting deftly applies the framework of the positivistic tra- tion. The introductory chapters provide an overview of current changes and their major consequences in the field of marketing. The importance of word of mouth is illustrated with reference to contemporary market developments and marketing pr- tice.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Abstract
Marketing has traditionally been understood as a distinct organisational function. Its purpose: to efficiently connect a company with the demand side of the market to which the firm is trying to sell its products or services. To this end, marketing seeks to satisfy customer needs at a profit by targeting a carefully chosen segment within that market, and by making optimal decisions regarding the relevant variables for adapting its offer to the chosen segment (McCarthy, 1960; Kotler, 1967). Kotler’s seminal textbook explains: “marketing management seeks to determine the settings of the company’s marketing decision variables that will maximise the company’s objective(s) in the light of the expected behavior of non-controllable demand variables” (1972, p. 42, italics in original).
Martin Oetting

2. Word of Mouth Research Traditions

Abstract
Modern research about word of mouth was most probably born when the the concept of the “opinion leader” was introduced, which resulted from studies in the field of political communications. Only a few years later, an early marketing-driven study analysed the way communication about innovations spread among neighbours. The following paragraphs provide an introduction to these early studies.
Martin Oetting

3. Drivers for Word of Mouth

Abstract
To approach the phenomenon, we will regroup the existing research by examining positive word-of-mouth drivers that have been identified across the different literature so far. Our literature review revealed a wide range of antecedents to sender WOM – triggers or stimuli that inspire people to talk favourably about products, brands or services.
Martin Oetting

4. Involvement

Abstract
In the following section, the involvement construct will be discussed. We will begin with a brief introduction, and then present a definition, as well as different dimensions and objects of involvement. Various effects that are associated with involvement will follow. This will also allow us to explicitly return to the goal of our research, the identification of ways in which companies can stimulate word of mouth. A discussion of the challenges associated with stimulating involvement concludes this chapter.
Martin Oetting

5. Empowered Involvement

Abstract
This chapter is organised as follows: first, we will provide a brief introduction to the empowerment construct by highlighting different fields of business research which have dealt with the idea of empowerment. We will then proceed by briefly discussing a major milestone in the conceptualisation of empowerment – the change from a relational to a motivational construct. Next, we will present Spreitzer’s (1995) approach to measuring empowerment, in order to then move on to our own conceptualisation of Empowered Involvement (EmI) which is based on Spreitzer’s construct, and which can be considered an adaptation of the empowerment construct for the (consumer) marketing process.
Martin Oetting

6. Testing Empowered Involvement

Abstract
Our previous considerations have equipped us with a theoretical model that can help explain and predict the behaviour of consumers in an Empowered Involvement setting. First, we analysed the connection between involvement and word of mouth based on existing theoretical and empirical findings. Next, we conceptualised a particular type of involvement which we call Empowered Involvement, and which results from the combination of its four formative dimensions. We are now in a position that allows us to deduce conclusions concerning the relationship between Empowered Involvement and word of mouth (Chalmers, 2001; Popper, 1966).
Martin Oetting

7. Outlook

Abstract
This research is, to our knowledge, the first to scientifically demonstrate that a specific form of engagement marketing (namely: Empowered Involvement) can lead to positive word of mouth and improve advocacy levels. The approach may therefore be considered to be a promising avenue for marketers who need to both meet the challenges of empowered consumers, and deal with the growing importance of word of mouth. It thus provides a suggestion for marketers who “try to stimulate situational involvement for existing consumers” (Wangenheim & Bayón, 2007, p. 247).
Martin Oetting

Backmatter

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