This paper explores how the dimensions of new products, specifically, the originality and usefulness of the products, influence word-of-mouth (WOM). In four studies, using lab and field setups, we find that originality and usefulness have different effects on WOM. We show that consumers spread more WOM about original products, but the valence of what they say depends on the usefulness of the product. Therefore, originality enhances the effect of usefulness such that consumers spread relatively more and more positively valenced WOM about original and useful products compared to less original but equally useful products. Conversely, consumers spread more and more negatively valenced WOM about original products that are not useful compared to less original products with the same level of low usefulness. The results indicate that product originality should be managed carefully when developing and positioning new products. Although originality increases buzz, it might lead to negatively valenced WOM when the usefulness of the product is perceived to be low.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This paper is a based on the doctoral dissertation of Sarit Moldovan. The second and third authors were co-chairs of the committee, and their order of authorship is random. The authors would like to thank Barak Libai, Guy Yogev, Hubert Gatignon, Donald R Lehmann, John G. Lynch Jr., and Eitan Muller for their helpful comments. The financial support of the following institutions is gratefully acknowledged: the Davidson Center, the Hebrew University, the Israeli Science Foundation, the K-mart International Center of Marketing and Retailing, the Marketing Science Institute, R&D INSEAD, the New York Metropolitan research fund, and the Yeshaya Horowitz Association through the Center for Complexity Science.
- Diffusion of innovations
- Product design
- Product originality
- Product usefulness