It is extremely hard, if not impossible, to quantify positive and negative WOM when the matter of taste comes into play. Certainly, it is often easy to discern whether the speaker is displaying a positive reaction towards a product, but I don’t see any way to determine whether or not that means the influence that particular thought has is necessarily in agreement with the thought itself.
This idea was brought to my attention through the otherwise innocuous events of my weekend. On Saturday, my girlfriend and I went to see the movie, Pan’s Labyrinth after receiving a positive WOM recommendation from a friend of mine. Or, I should say, a recommendation that my friend considered a positive one. He described Pan as a riveting foreign movie that mixes fantasy with a period/war film with beautiful special effects. This would certainly fall under the characterization of positive WOM, right? But, what if I hated movies that have sub-titles? What if I hate fantasy, or war films? What if I want my movies to be entirely driven by the actors, not by surreal computer effects? Sure, my friend liked the movie and his recommendation would be documented as a positive WOM exchange, but when dealing with the matter of taste, we consider it a black and white issue. There is room for interpretation by each individual member of the audience as to whether this WOM fits into their own personal taste.
As for the film itself, I enjoyed it. My girlfriend, on the other hand, was turned off by the graphic, gratuitous violence, saying she couldn’t even watch half the scenes without feeling nauseous. After hearing her dour review, my roommate exclaimed, “Awesome! I’m definitely going to see that one!”