Monday, April 30, 2007

Andrea Manner's Reflection Essay

Context for this post

Tracking my word of mouth episodes led me to realize the integration of brands and services into my every day communication exchanges. By reflecting on my word of mouth exchanges and the brands on which they are centered, I realized the high degree of commercialization evident in my personal communication exchanges. As a result of the frequency of discourse surrounding brands and services, I was essentially unaware of its pervasiveness in my interactions. In addition to my realizing of the commercialization of my communication exchanges, this assignment allowed me to evaluate whether or not I am a brand advocate and for what specific brands. Historically, I had never identified myself as an influencer for brands of services; however, through tracking my word of mouth exchanges, I was able to further assess my advocacy.

When reflecting on the word of mouth episode surveys I filled out, the over arching theme that continuously reemerged is how the commercialization of my communication exchanges has increasingly become second nature. When deciding on a word of mouth episode to record, I often had difficulty pinpointing one conversation. This lack of awareness leads me to believe that I have become immune to or unaware of the frequency of brands in my dialogue. My inability to recollect my conversations about brands does not imply that they did not exist, but that the brands are so deeply ingrained in my communication that they are difficult to identify.

While the commercialization of my communication has become second nature, documenting specific exchanges has certainly made the types of brands and services I discuss quite apparent. For example, the majority of my talk surrounding brands tended to take place face to face with my friends; this is most likely due to proximity and my less frequent use of the telephone, instant messenger, and other electronic media. In addition to the people with whom I am more likely to discuss brands, I also realized that the topics I tend to discuss more frequently are clothing, food, and music. Many times these conversations ended with a recommendation, as in the case of my word of mouth exchange about the restaurant, Wagamama, where I heavily recommended it to my conversational partner. Reflecting on the elements and topics of my word of mouth episodes help me to identify those products and services about which I am more passionate.

In addition to realizing the types of brands and services I tend to discuss with friends, this assignment also helped me realize the specific brands I advocate more heavily than others. For example, in my word of mouth exchange about Wagamama, a London-based noodle bar restaurant, I essentially tried to convince my conversational partner to go to the grand opening of the Boston restaurant. Because I was more knowledgeable about the brand through dining there in London and researching the restaurant on the Internet, I was able to be more convincing when influencing my friend to try the restaurant. Similarly, there were multiple occasions when I recommended Boloco to my friends, family, and co-workers because of my consistent satisfaction with their food and customer service. Essentially, my positive experiences with the brands have made me a loyal advocate for both restaurants. Therefore, this assignment has allowed me to realize with which brands I identify most, and those brands for which I am more apt to advocate.

When examining my word of mouth episodes, two major themes came to light. First, the commercialization of my dialogue between my friends has become so deeply engrained that I am often unaware of its presence. As a result of this lack of awareness, tracking my word of mouth episodes helped me realize the types of brands I tend to discuss most and those brands I recommend to others.

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