Understanding Electronic Word of Behavior: Conceptualization of the Observable Digital Traces of Consumers’ Behaviors

Katrine Kunst, Ravi Vatrapu

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The widespread digitization of consumers’ daily lives entails a plethora of digital traces of consumers’ behaviors. These traces can be turned into meaningful communicative and observable content by the services that possess the trace data. While extant research has empirically showed this to have a significant impact on consumer choices we argue that the phenomenon is undertheorized. In this theoretical paper, we conceptualize this kind of observable behavior-based information as ‘Electronic Word of Behavior’ (eWOB) and define it as “published accounts of behavior, based on the unobservable digital traces of consumers’ behaviors”. We characterize eWOB as an instantiation of Digital Trace Data and situate it within the established concepts of Social Interactions and Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM). By drawing on extant empirical research and constructs from Digital Trace Data, Social Interactions and eWOM, we propose a framework for eWOB that highlights its unique characteristics and design dimensions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalElectronic Markets
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)323-336
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

Published online: 9. June 2018.


  • Electronic word of mouth (eWOM)
  • Electronic word of behavior (eWOB)
  • Social influence
  • Observational learning
  • Social interactions
  • Digital trace data

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