What’s word of mouth worth? Trillions.

Lori Bahnmueller 01/25/18 - 9:50 pm

What's word of mouth worth? Trillions.

When consumers talk up brands IRL and online, consumers buy—a lot. According to a study by Engagement Labs, consumer conversations drive 19 percent of sales worth $7-10 trillion in annual spending.

If your brand has convinced itself that social chatter doesn’t matter, think again. Consumers across generations—ages 13 to 69—are paying attention to opinions shared over various product categories. Tweets, blogs, snaps, posts, comments and more add up to sales.

The survey included 170 brands, with detailed analysis of 21 (including Budweiser, Apple, Coca-Cola and Neutrogena), to learn how consumer conversations prompt sales.

The researchers considered the correlation between weekly sales of brands and the weekly word of mouth about those brands. Word of mouth occurred both in person and on social media, including Twitter, Facebook and online forums. The two forms of word of mouth contributed almost evenly to sales, with social media contributing 9 percent and in-person contributing 10 percent

“Social media conversation has a measurable business impact,” said Engagement Labs CEO Ed Keller in a story posted at warc.com. “Our analytics also demonstrate that social influences go well beyond the screen. Consumers are making purchasing decisions at the water cooler, on dates and at home with family, as well as chatting with friends on Twitter and other social networks.”

Your brand doesn’t have to be an international soft drink darling to leverage the power of word of mouth. If you’re big enough for a Facebook Page, you’re big enough to generate buzz. Start by soliciting and rewarding feedback by prompt, courteous response.  Even the worst consumer experiences can prove fruitful.

Consider my recent experience with Anthropologie. I returned a smock after it faded and became misshapen after a few washes. I was a little shy about returning something I’d worn several times, but the clerk made me feel immediately justified and refunded my purchase with no further questions. Trader Joe’s has a love it or return it policy too that motivates trial.

What was the last brand you couldn’t stop chatting up? Maybe your brand could learn a few things.

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