The Vast Majority of Word-of-Mouth About Brands Still Takes Place Offline



Word-of-mouth (WOM) has long been a major player when it comes to learning about brands and making a purchase decision. While total offline WOM impressions have modestly increased since 2007, something hasn’t changed: the majority of all WOM is still done face-to-face. This is per new data from Engagement Labs.

Marking 15 years of measuring offline WOM – defined by Engagement Labs as conversations taking place face-to-face, by phone, emailing, texting, or any channel other than posting on social media – the study finds that WOM in the US remains majority (66%) face-to-face, just as it was at the start of the study, despite this share decreasing from 74% in 2007.

Also between 2007 and 2020, the share of WOM accounted for by phone conversations has remained steady at around 17%, while among online channels the share of conversations attributed to instant message/text message has increased from 3% to 8%, and email’s share has dipped from 3% to 2%.

WOM has clear benefits for brands: research from Bluecore finds that despite the rise of influencer marketing WOM still tops the list of channels that most influence online shoppers’ decision to try a new brand.

And, Marketing Charts’ US Purchase Influencers Report indicated that recommendations from friends and family were US adults’ biggest purchase influencer.

WOM Impressions

The study looks to emphasize that rather than compromise offline WOM, as social media has developed, offline WOM has actually increased. In 2007, there were an estimated 13.2 billion weekly offline WOM impressions about brands, with that figure climbing to 14 billion per week in 2020.


Read the full MarketingCharts article, here.

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