Purpose – Word‐of‐mouth (WOM) has been recognized as one of the most influential resources of information transmission. Advances in information technology and the emergence of online social network sites have changed the way information is transmitted. This phenomenon impacts consumers as this easily accessible information could greatly affect the consumption decision. The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which e‐WOM among consumers can influence brand image and purchase intention in the automobile industry. Design/methodology/approach – Measurement items are adapted from existing scales found in the marketing literature. Academic colleagues reviewed the items for face validity and readability. The scales are evaluated for reliability, convergent validity, and discriminant validity using data collected in a survey of Iran Khodro's prospective customers in Iran. A structural equation modeling procedure is applied to the examination of the influences of e‐WOM on brand image and purchase intention. The research model was tested empirically using a sample of 341 respondents who had experience within online communities of customers and referred to Iran Khodro's agencies during the period of research. Findings – The paper found that e‐WOM is one of the most effective factors influencing brand image and purchase intention of brands in consumer markets. Research limitations/implications – The paper outlines ways to promote a brand effectively through online customer communities, as well as general tips for website and forum moderators for facilitating such presentation in a manner useful to the members of their online communities. While there is a substantial research stream that examines the branding of consumers goods and an increasing literature on product brands, little is known about brand image in the context of online communications. This paper extends existing measurement of brand image to a new setting, namely e‐WOM. Originality/value – This paper provides valuable insight into the measurement of e‐WOM, brand image, and purchase intention in the automobile industry and offers a foundation for future product branding research.
Marketing Intelligence & Planning – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 15, 2012
Keywords: Internet; Consumer behaviour; Word of mouth; Brand image; Social networks; Iran
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