This master’s thesis concerns consumer’s motivations for posting e-WOM in virtual communities such as consumer opinion platforms as well as social media. As customers increasingly use the internet for social media as well as a tool in information search, the increase is equally related to e-WOM, which is defined as “any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual, or former customers about a product or company, which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions via the Internet” (Hennig- Thurau, Gwinner, Walsh, & Gremler, 2004). These trends make firms more and more vulnerable. Especially when e-WOM messages are posted in virtual communities, because they appear to have greater effect on customers’ purchase intensions and because of their accessibility (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004). With the purpose of examining the motivations behind consumers’ engagement in e-WOM, the Danish restaurant chain of Sticks’n’Sushi was chosen as a specific case for the investigation. Thus, the analysed data consisted of e-WOM post about these restaurants in both Denmark and England, providing an international perspective, which was relevant according to the chain’s growth into new markets. The data was collected in six different case locations, including both consumer opinion platforms and social media platforms, and examined by applying the method of interpretive analysis with a hermeneutic perspective. This research method allowed me to categorise the collected data qualitatively, which subsequently was analysed quantitatively and interpreted in relation to relevant literature on e-WOM motivations. The hermeneutic approach allowed for my pre-understandings and biases to ask the preliminary research questions and to influence the course of the investigation. Equally, my interpretations of both literature as well as findings of the investigation were influenced by this approach. The findings included evidence of distinctions between motivations for engaging in e-WOM on consumer opinion platforms opposed to social media platforms. Additionally, the findings included evidence of distinctions between Danish and English Sticks’n’Sushi customers. For instance, negative e-WOM tendencies among Danish Sticks’n’Sushi customers were found, indicating motivations originating in a need for complaining. Additionally, the findings showed that the Danish Sticks’n’Sushi customers tend to be motivated by self-enhancement, comprising of a need to be perceived as an expert or a connoisseur. On the other hand, the findings showed that the English Sticks’n’Sushi customers to a larger extent are motivated due to altruistic reasons. These findings among others are not only relevant as a supplement to Sticks’n’Sushi’s existing market research; they contribute to the existing empirical field of research as well. Additionally, this thesis contributes with a novel research method and approach.
|Uddannelser||Cand.merc.kom Erhvervsøkonomi og Virksomhedskommunikation, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling|