Monday, April 30, 2007

Kait Falconer's Reflection Essay

Context for this post

The Word-of-Mouth Diary assignment provided me with an interesting opportunity that allowed me to see the effects that Word-of-Mouth communication had on my everyday life. I was able to get a grasp on the practical application of WOM and I was able to witness the degree of influence that individuals give their peers as well as look at how much trust I give to my friends and acquaintances. While the three episodes that I recorded did not provide any shocking results pertaining to what individuals I am more likely to trust or whose opinion I value, the episodes were educational in displaying the prevalence of WOM in my conversations with others.

In the past I would often deem people who were brand-happy or obsessed with the latest trend as somewhat shallow or in desperate need of getting their priorities straight. This assignment was a quick reminder for me to be wary when judging others. My three episodes clearly showed that I was also guilty of such “shallow small-talk,” and more importantly that it was less “shallow small-talk” than necessary discussion. My first survey was especially revealing. While I had a part time job at a retail establishment, the majority of my conversations involved talking about a product or service. Even when I no longer worked in retail, almost half of my daily conversations involved a product or service; I was alarmed to see just how often my conversations revolved around some material object or company.

Throughout the three episodes, the length of the WOM episode never exceeded an hour, and two were under a half hour. I think this is significant in that two of the episodes proved to effectively persuade at least one partner into purchasing or considering a product. I do however believe that the success of the episodes was based considerably on the relationship between my partner and I. Two of the three episodes occurred between my best friend and myself, these were more influential than the WOM conversation that I had with my roommate. While only three WOM episodes were mandatory for the class, the assignment made me significantly more aware of my interactions with others. In judging my everyday WOM interactions I found that I made more recommendations than I received, that my recommendations were often aimed at acquaintances, and that product or service recommendations actually made up a lot of my small talk, arising when searching for common ground on which to relate. I discovered that upon finding out that a person shared an interest of mine, the conversation would quickly turn to us making specific suggestions regarding the topic, perhaps a subconscious attempt to show one another our expertise on the matter.

Overall, I think the assignment reiterated the growing role that Word-of-Mouth is playing in today’s world. Increasingly we are bombarded by companies trying to persuade us that their product or service is better than their numerous competitors, and consistently another company is featured in the news concerning corrupt motives or false advertising. Appropriately, and as emphasized by my WOM Diary, people are seeking an alternative source for opinions, and when looking for reliability and honesty, turning to peers currently seems to be the best option available.

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