An Exploratory Study on the Adaptive Word-of-Mouth Communication in Seeker-initiated Context: Results

The degree of the seekers’ information required and WOM dependency can be combined to provide a straightforward model with four types of WOM request behaviors as shown in Figure 1. People sometimes subcontracted their choice task to their friend when they lacked the knowledge to judge the quality of a product. In this situation, the seeker and the sender usually formed a strong relationship. Therefore, the seeker emotionally counted on their friend’s judgment to help them make the final decision. As one of our interviewees said, the sender known her (taste and need) very well, and she believed that the sender’s suggestion would meet her need. In fact, dependent decision is very rare. Only one case in our data was classified to dependent decision category.
Decision Direction
This type of seeker simply wants to know more about the market, for example, where to collect the information or how to make decision, among others. Since seekers are less familiar with the product market than the senders are, WOM information will narrow down the product selection and affect their weight of the product attribute when making the decision. Cloud Computing

Product Consulting
Some people ask for specific information, including product-specific information (for example, price, where to buy?) and consumption-related experience. People want to know about the product by asking their friends to share their feelings about using the product. They might be willing to buy the product but lack for confidence to make the final decision. As one sender said, “he just needed my support to make sure that he made a good decision.”
Social Interaction
Sometimes, WOM exchange is just a topic of their conversation. The seekers initiated a WOM communication, but they did not really want to buy the product. In fact, chatting is the main reason for a seeker to ask a product opinion. The seekers are not purely information receivers; they exchange opinion most of the time.
Sender’s Motivations
The major difference between seeker-initiated WOM and sender-initiated WOM is that the WOM receiver is motivated to buy the product that they are currently discussing. Because the sender realizes that his opinion may have great influence on the seeker’s final decision, s/he may adopt different strategies in response to the seeker’s request. Table 1 presents sender’s motivations in seeker-initiated word-of-mouth communication context. Ccontrary to the past research, the findings revealed two distinct motivations, regret aversion and egotism, but only in seeker-initiated WOM. Regret is a negative emotion that resulted from poor WOM giving. Some people avoid giving concrete product advice when a product is inherently risky. They might respond to the request by providing a general idea, by teaching the seeker to make decisions, or if they do recommend a specific product, by pointing out the drawback of the product in advance. In fact, regret aversion is a very common response in seeker-initiated WOM communication, though it has seldom been addressed in WOM research. Half of the interviewees in this study revealed a tendency to avoid possible regret while giving advice.


Figure 1. Types of WOM requests

Table 1. Sender’s Motivations in Seeker-initiated Context

Sender’s Motivations Frequency Percentage
Altruism 14 100%
Product involvement 9 64%
Self-enhancement 9 64%
Regret aversion 9 64%
Helping the company 2 14%
Egotism 1 7%

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