Social Anti-Percolation and Negative Word of Mouth
T. Erez (Institute for Scientific Interchange, Italy), S. Moldovan (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel) and Soloman (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel Institute for Scientific Interchange, Italy)
Copyright: © 2007
Many new products fail, despite preliminary market surveys having determined considerable potential market share. This effect is too systematic to be attributed to bad luck. We suggest an explanation by presenting a new percolation theory model for product propagation, where agents interact over a social network. In our model, agents who do not adopt the product spread negative word of mouth to their neighbors, and so their neighborhood becomes less susceptible to the product. The result is a dramatic increase in the percolation threshold. When the effect of negative word of mouth is strong enough, it is shown to block any product from spreading to a significant fraction of the network. So, rather then being rejected by a large fraction of the agents, the product gets blocked by the rejection of a negligible fraction of the potential market. The rest of the potential buyers do not adopt the product because they are never exposed to it: the negative word of mouth spread by initial rejectors suffocates the diffusion by negatively affecting the immediate neighborhood of the propagation front.