Measuring Consumer Motivations to Share Rumors: Scale Development

Measuring Consumer Motivations to Share Rumors: Scale Development

Subin Sudhir, Anandakuttan B. Unnithan
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/ijom.2014070104
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Rumors are often shared in the marketplace about products, services, brands or organizations; both in the online as well as in the offline scenarios. These rumors get communicated from consumer to consumer in the form of Word of Mouth (WOM). An exhaustive review of literature identified four motivations for consumers to share rumors in the marketplace; which included anxiety management motivation, information sharing motivation, relationship management motivation and self enhancement motivation. The review was not conclusive in identifying any scales for the measurement of these motivations. The article develops a scale for measuring these four motivations. Structured interviews were initially conducted to identify 33 items that motivate a consumer to share rumors. Based on an exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis four factors were identified and the final scale retained 21 items. The scale displayed good scores of reliability and validity.
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Word of Mouth (WOM) communications has been an integral part of marketing scholarship. “WOM is a consumer-dominated channel of communication where the sender is independent of the market” (Brown, Broderick and Lee; 2007). The initial work in the field of WOM started in the early 1950s, ever since the field has seen a flurry of research interests; including the recent developments into e-WOM (e.g. Arndt, 1967; Sheth, 1971; Day, 1971; Stock and Zinsner, 1987; Engel et al., 1969; Richins, 1983; Mangold, 1987; Bolfing, 1989; Murray, 1991; Herr et al., 1991; Woodside et al., 1992; Webster, 1991; Zeithaml et al., 1993; Buttle, 1998;).

Koenig (1985) suggests that rumors are the dominant form of WOM in circulation. A rumor is defined as “an unverified and instrumentally relevant information statement in circulation that arises in contexts of ambiguity, danger, or potential threat and that functions to help people make sense and manage risk” (DiFonzo and Bordia, 2007). Rumors can potentially affect perceptions about the product and brand images, cause changes to the credibility of the brands and affect consumer loyalty (Kimmel, 2004; Kapferer, 1990; Koenig, 1985). The overload of commercially generated marketing communication confuses the consumer and guides the consumer to explore non-commercial forms of information; like WOM (Meiners, et al., 2010). Marketplace rumors are fast propagated especially through social networks (Kostka et al., 2008). In the recent years there have been many rumors that have emerged in the marketplace and have created drastic effects on the marketing scenario (Kimmel, 2004). But, despite the importance of rumors, there has been little attention paid to rumor research in the marketing context (Kimmel and Audrain-Pontevia, 2010), although this stream of research is not totally new (e.g. Kamins et, al. 1997; Kimmel, 2004; Kimmel and Audrain-Pontevia, 2010).

Despite the importance of rumors in the marketing context, little is known about the psychological factors driving rumor propagation (Dubois, et, al., 2011). Although, there have been a few studies focusing on the motivations to share WOM (e.g. Dichter, 1966; Engel et al., 1993; Sundaram, Mitra and Webster, 1998; Hennig-Thurau et, al., 2004), sparse attention has been given to the motivations to share rumors in the marketplace and correspondingly there are inadequacies in the instruments to measure these motivations. The objective of this paper is to identify the consumer motivations to share rumors in the marketplace and to develop appropriate scales to measure these motivations.

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