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  • 1.      Do  Websites  Such  as  TripAdvisor  Affect  Consumer  Behaviour  with  the  use  of  Word-­‐of-­‐Mouth?    By  Rodrigue  Eid              L o n d o n   S o u t h   B a n k   –   M a y   2 0 1 2    
  • 2. Authors  Deceleration      I   certify   that   all   quotes   and   passages   from   other   peoples   work   that   have   been  used   for   the   purpose   of   this   dissertation   have   all   been   acknowledged   by  referencing   both   the   author   and   their   work.   I   also   certify   that   I   am   the   sole  author  of  this  dissertation  and  that  it  does  not  infringe  or  violate  any  copyright  laws.   I   understand   that   plagiarism   will   be   considered   as   failure   towards   the  dissertation  module  and  also  this  degree  as  a  whole.      Rodrigue  Eid                                                                   ii  
  • 3. Dedication  &  Acknowledgments      I   would   like   to   dedicate   this   page   to   say   thank   you   to   all   the   people   who   have  helped   me   in   overcoming   the   stress   and   anxiety   that   I   went   through   to   complete  this   dissertation.   My   biggest   gratitude   goes   to   my   grandfather,   not   only   for  encouraging  me  to  go  to  university  but  also  for  believing  in  me  and  always  being  so  proud  of  me  for  whatever  I  have  done.      I   would   also   like   to   express   my   appreciation   to   my   supervisor   Anita   Peleg,   as  without  your  guidance  and  perseverance  I  would  not  have  been  able  to  complete  this  by  myself.  I  would  like  to  thank  her  for  all  the  advice,  recommendation  and  amounts   of   times   she   told   me   to   redo   certain   sections   till   we   were   satisfied   with  the  work  produced.      Thank  you  to  all  my  family  and  friends  who  also  believed  in  me  and  supported  me   during   the   production   of   this   mammoth   research   project,   as   without   their  constant   words   of   encouragement   and   their   help   I   would   not   of   been   able   to  complete   this   project.   I   would   like   to   also   thank   my   mother   who   had   to   sit  through   endless   hours   of   me   talking   at   her   about   my   dissertation.   I   would   also  like   to   express   my   thankfulness   to   my   best   friend   Johanna   El-­‐Tohami   who   has  also   helped   me   greatly   in   executing   this   dissertation   by   checking   my   grammar  and  spelling.      This   dissertation   has   Definitely   proven   to   be   challenging;   however   it   has  definitely  been  a  once  in  a  lifetime  experience.  Thank  you  again  to  everyone  who  has   helped   in   making   this   project   come   to   life,   and   I   hope   that   this   piece   of  research  will  help  people  in  the  future  with  similar  activities  they  carry  out.           “There  isn’t  a  person     anywhere  who  is  not  capable   of  doing  more  than  he  thinks     he  can.  “       Tom  Ford         iii  
  • 4. Abstract    Purpose:    This  study  has  been  carried  out  to  answer  the  question  as  to  whether  consumer   behaviour   is   affected   my   word   of   mouth   when   it   comes   to   websites  such  as  TripAdvisor.      Methodology/Literature   review:   These   sections   of   the   study   provide   an  extensive   read   surrounding   the   different   methods   of   research   used   to   obtain  information  that  is  needed  to  execute  the  report.  Looking  at  published  literature,  data,  and  information  from  academics,  government  and  others  surrounding  the  topic  of  consumer  behaviour,  word  of  mouth  and  their  importance.      Findings:   This   section   of   the   study   is   where   all   information   is   drawn   together.  The   major   findings   made   in   this   section   derived   from   my   sample   population  taking  part  in  posting  reviews  and  partaking  in  word  of  mouth.  The  majority  of  the  sample  surveyed  stated  that  they  did  post  positive  comments  online  however  were   they   honest   about   the   information   they   shared.   Another   discovery   made  had   to   do   with   the   relation   of   good   and   bad   comments.   It   was   apparent   that  people  from  the  sample  were  more  likely  to  talk  about  bad  word  of  mouth  than  good   word   of   mouth.   This   finding   can   also   be   related   to   some   of   the   literature  that   was   found   from   people   such   as   Blythe   (2008)   and   Evans   et  al  (2006)   and  Blackwell   et   al   (2006).   The   general   recommendation   that   highlighted   in   the  findings  was  a  method  in  which  the  accuracy  of  reviews  can  be  checked  before  they  went  live  on  the  website.      Recommendation  and  Conclusion:  In  this  section  of  the  report,  everything  in  this  study  is  brought  together,  after  all  the  analysis  that  was  made  and  the  findings.  Recommendations   were   also   made   in   order   to   help   answer   the   objectives   that  were   set   out   in   chapter   1   in   order   to   help   websites   such   as   TripAdvisor   and  others   keep   their   customer   happy.   The   conclusion   and   recommendations   were  reached   in   several   ways,   firstly   through   the   secondary   findings   from   the  literature  review  and  secondly  through  the  primary  findings  made  by  the  survey.           iv  
  • 5. Format  of  Study      Chapter  1:  Introduction    This   is   where   the   background   of   the   study   will   be   outlined   and   any   details   about  the  research  problem  will  be  defined.  This  section  will  also  include  the  reasons  why  this  study  is  important  to  carry  out  and  also  the  objectives  that  it  is  aiming  to  answer.      Chapter  2:  Methodology    This   section   of   the   report   will   look   at   the   various   methods   in   which   research   can  be  carried  out  in  order  to  help  make  this  research  more  effective.  An  exploration  of  both  primary  and  secondary  research  methods  will  be  looked  at  and  decided  upon  for  the  purpose  of  this  study.  In  addition  to  this,  both  quantitative  methods  and  qualitative  methods  will  be  explored  to  aid  this  research.    This  section  will  also  look  at  the  risk  of  bias  data  and  limitations  to  obtaining  data.      Chapter  3:  Literature  Review    This   section   will   look   at   various   theories   and   previous   texts   that   have   been  published  surrounding  some  of  the  main  topics  that  will  affect  my  study.  In  order  to  better  understand  what  this  research  and  to  ensure  that  the  right  path  is  taken  it   was   necessary   to   look   at   various   texts   that   explained   what   consumer  behaviour   is,   or   what   word   of   mouth   is,   how   these   variable   can   be   affected   by  consumers   and   so   on.   It   is   for   this   reason   that   this   section   is   necessary,   as  without   it   there   would   be   no   background   or   understanding   about   the   various  topics  that  this  study  is  aiming  to  answer.      Chapter  4:  Research  Findings    In  this  section  of  the  study  all  data  collated  from  the  survey  would  be  analysed  and  put  into  tables  and  pie  charts  in  order  to  help  the  reader  get  a  better  view  of  the   findings.   This   section   is   all   about   getting   the   relevant   information   that   is  required  that  will  help  in  finding  answers  to  the  objectives  that  have  been  set  out  In   chapter   1.   This   section   is   also   important   as   it   helps   in   seeing   if   what   the     v  
  • 6. previous   published   texts   actually   reflect   the   findings,   or   if   times   have   changed  and  new  findings  and  theories  may  need  to  be  drawn  by  a  more  vast  extensive  research.      Chapter  5:  Recommendation  and  Conclusion    This   section   of   the   report   is   all   about   what   conclusions   and   recommendations  can   be   drawn   from   the   findings   in   the   study   that   will   help   both   answer   the  objectives   set   out   in   chapter   1   but   also   hopefully   help   organisations   in   seeing  what   this   sample   population   had   to   say   about   they   way   things   are   currently  operating.      References  and  Bibliography    This   will   contain   a   list   of   books,   papers,   and   websites   that   were   used   and  referred  to  for  the  purpose  of  this  research.      Appendices    This  will  contain  any  extra  information  that  was  also  referred  to  within  the  body  of  the  study  that  was  either  too  large  or  not  important  to  include.  However,  these  have  been  included  in  this  section  to  be  referred  to  if  needed.                                 vi  
  • 7. Contents       Page  Chapter  1  -­‐  Introduction   1  1.  Background     2-­‐3  1.2.  Research  Problem     3-­‐4  1.2.1.  Research  Objectives   4  1.3.  Importance  of  Study     4-­‐5        Chapter  2  –  Methodology     6  2.  Introduction   7  2.1.  Secondary  Research     7  2.2.  Primary  Research     7-­‐9  2.3.  The  Quantitative  Approach     9  2.4.  Justification  of  Survey  Selection   9-­‐10  2.4.1.  Why  Other  Methods  Were  not  Chosen     10-­‐11  2.4.2.  Survey  Design     11-­‐12  2.4.3.  Pre-­‐test  Survey     13  2.5.  Sampling     13-­‐14  2.5.1.  Response  Rate     14  2.6.  Collection  Method     14  2.7.  Sampling  Error   14-­‐15      Chapter  3  –  Literature  Review     16  3.  Consumer  Behaviour     17  3.1.1.  Consumer  Decision  Process  Model   17-­‐18  3.2.  Search  for  Information   18-­‐19  3.3.  Post  Consumption  Evaluation     20  3.3.3.  Importance  of  Customer  Satisfaction   20-­‐21  3.4.  Word  of  Mouth     21-­‐22  3.4.1.  Good  vs.  Bad   23  The  Minus  Levels     23  The  Plus  Levels     24  Level  Zero   25  3.5.  Cognitive  Dissonance     25-­‐26  3.6.  Summary     26-­‐27      Chapter  4  –  Research  Findings     28  4.  Introduction     29  4.1.  Microsoft  Excel     29  4.2.  Response  Rate   29  4.3.  The  Respondents     29-­‐30  4.4.  Before  Purchasing  a  Holiday     30     vii  
  • 8. 4.5.  Recent  Holidays     31-­‐32  4.6.  TripAdvisor     32-­‐33  4.7.  Existing  Reviews     33-­‐36  4.8.  Word  of  Mouth     36-­‐39  4.9.  Recommendations  from  Respondents     39      Chapter  5  –  Recommendations  and  Conclusion     40  5.  Introduction     41  5.1.  Conclusion     41-­‐43  5.2.  Recommendations     44  5.3.  Areas  for  Possible  Research     44-­‐45      Appendix     46-­‐74      Bibliography     75-­‐76       viii  
  • 9.   1     Chapter        Introduction    Chapter  1    Background  2;  Research  Problem  3;  Research  Objectives  4;  Importance  of  Study  4  L o n d o n   S o u t h   B a n k   –   M a y   2 0 1 2      
  • 10. INTRODUCTION     1      1. Background     The  Tourism  industry  has  seen  a  surge  in  the  amount  of  online  user-­‐ generated  content  with  regards  to  word  of  mouth  reviews.  TripAdvisor,   which  is  owned  and  operated  by  Expedia  Inc.,  has  led  this  revolution.  With   technology  improving  on  a  day-­‐to-­‐day  basis,  the  Internet  has  now  become  a   central  hub  for  communicating  through  social  networking  sites,  travel  sites,   and  blogs  enabling  customers  to  talk  freely  about  their  experiences  of   holidays  they  have  been  on.  Smith  and  Taylor  (2002),  describe  word  of   mouth  as  the  most  potent  and  robust  tool  in  advertising.    Highlighting  that   many  of  the  textbooks  share  the  opinion,  Smith  and  Taylor  (2002),  state  that   no  matter  how  good  a  marketing  campaign  may  be,  or  how  much  of  an  expert   seller  a  person  may  be,  they  alone  cannot  compete  with  the  power  of  a   recommendation  made  by  a  colleague  or  friend.       In  the  fourth  quarter  of  2011  TripAdvisor  published  an  increase  its  revenue   by  30%  to  $137.8  million,  making  its  full  years  revenue  $637.1  million1.  This   was  a  31%  increase  from  20102.  TripAdvisor  has  approximately  20  million   users  in  around  26  countries  including  China3.  With  access  to  over  40  million   reviews  and  opinions,  TripAdvisor  services  are  available  free  of  charge  to  its   users,  allowing  them  to  post  comments  and  compare  holidays  free  of  charge4,   and  also  share  them  with  other  users  through  social  networking  sites,  such  as   Facebook  or  Twitter.  TripAdvisor  makes  it  revenue  through  the  use  of  click-­‐ based  advertising,  display  based  advertising  and  also  subscriptions.  This  is   where  service  providers  use  trip  advisor  as  a  distribution  channel  for  their   service  or  product  for  publicity5.       With  over  53%  of  holidays  being  booked  online  in  2010,  according  to  a   survey  done  by  Target  Group  Index,  more  people  are  now  taking  the  time  to                                                                                                                  1  TripAdvisor  reports  fourth  quarter  and  full  year  2011  financial  results      2  TripAdvisor  reports  fourth  quarter  and  full  year  2011  financial  results      3  TripAdvisor  reports  fourth  quarter  and  full  year  2011  financial  results      4  TripAdvisor  reports  fourth  quarter  and  full  year  2011  financial  results      5  TripAdvisor  reports  fourth  quarter  and  full  year  2011  financial  results         2  
  • 11. INTRODUCTION     1     post  reviews  online  about  their  experiences.  According  to  a  Mintel  report  in   July  2011,  around  24%  of  the  population  sampled  posted  positive  reviews   about  their  holiday,  where  as  12%  posted  negative  reviews.  In  addition  to   this  Mintel6,  also  brought  to  light  that  6%  of  those  people  sampled,  also  made   positive  reviews  whilst  on  holiday  whilst  4%  posted  negative  reviews.       However,  recent  events  regarding  the  accuracy  of  these  word  of  mouth   reviews  have  been  put  under  the  spotlight.  In  2010,  legal  action  was  taken   against  TripAdvisor  after  it  had  published  ‘Dirtiest  hotel’  list,  where  the   British  Hotel  Association  wanted  to  enforce  legislation  making  it  illegal  to   post  unverified  posts7.  According  to  Mintel8,  a  website  launched  under  the   name  TripAdvisor-­‐warning.com  posted  200  fake  reviews  in  the  months   leading  to  the  2nd  of  June  2011  in  order  to  help  expose  the  infectiveness  with   regards  to  accuracy  on  TripAdvisor.       Is  TripAdvisor  now  finding  its  purpose  being  doubted  and  challenged  with   regards  to  the  accuracy  of  its  reviews?  More  than  48%  of  the  sample  people   questioned,  by  Target  Group  Index,  found  that  they  read  travel  reviews   generated  by  other  travellers.  However  are  any  of  these  reviews  to  be   trusted?  Around  28%  of  the  sample  question  by  Target  Group  Index,  agreed   that  they  trust  Internet  reviews  and  blogs  written  by  other  people  they  do   not  know,  where  as  53%  of  the  sample  neither  agreed  nor  disagreed9.      1.2. Research  Problem   With  broadband  penetrating  more  than  70%  of  households10,  the  Internet   has  expanded  rapidly  over  the  past  ten  years;  this  in  turn  has  affected  the   way  word  of  mouth  is  communicated.  It  is  also  evident  that  from  the   background  (section  1)  that  the  trend  in  consumer  behaviour  is  shifting   from  the  regular  “purchase  from  the  high  street  shop”  attitude  and                                                                                                                  6  July  2011  7  Mintel,  July  2011    8  July  2011  9  July  2011  10  Mintel  September  2011       3  
  • 12. INTRODUCTION     1     instead  making  most  of  their  purchases  online.  This  trend  is  what  makes   website  like  TripAdvisor  successful.  However  is  TripAdvisor  a  victim  of   its  own  success?  Exposure  to  the  Internet  has  increased  rapidly  in  the   past  couple  of  years  with  it  having  the  ability  to  be  accessed  from  a   number  of  platforms.  In  addition  to  home  broadband  penetrating  the   70%  barrier,  people  now  have  access  to  the  Internet  through  their   Smartphones,  TV  sets  and  even  hand  held  game  devices11.       By  focusing  on  the  tourism  industry,  and  in  particular  TripAdvisor,  the   problem  that  this  research  is  trying  to  tackle  to  what  extent  do  people   believe  and  trust  these  reviews,  how  accurate  these  reviews  are   especially  when  it  comes  to  reviews  that  have  been  generated  by  other   users.      1.2.1. Research  Objectives     Objective  1  –  How  does  word  of  mouth  affect  consumer  purchase   behaviour  when  it  comes  to  websites  such  as  TripAdvisor  or  similar   websites?         Objective  2  -­‐  What  intentions  do  consumers  have  when  it  comes  to  using   websites  such  as  TripAdvisor?       Objective  3  –  How  is  consumer-­‐purchasing  behaviour  affected  by  good   and  bad  reviews  on  websites  such  as  TripAdvisor?       Objective  4  –  What  recommendations  can  make  websites  such  as   TripAdvisor  make  their  reviews  more  accurate?    1.3. Importance  of  Study     The  importance  of  this  study  is  to  help  get  a  better  understanding  on  how   word  of  mouth  can  affect  consumer  behaviour  in  the  market.  The  study  is                                                                                                                  11  Mintel,  September  2011       4  
  • 13. INTRODUCTION     1     will  help  TripAdvisor  gaining  a  better  insight  into  consumer’s  perceptions   of  their  service.  This  study  will  provide  a  better  understanding  on   consumer  satisfaction  as  it  is  this  element  that  shapes  word  of  mouth  and   a  companies  reputation.       This  study  hopes  to  give  companies  a  foundation  surrounding  the  effects   that  negative  word  of  mouth  directed  towards  a  company  through  the   findings  and  recommendations  the  study  is  seeking  to  make.                                                 5  
  • 14. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     6     2     Chapter      Research  Methodology    Chapter  2    Introduction  7;  Secondary  Research  7;  Primary  Research  7;  The  Quantitative  Approach  9;  Justification  of  Questionnaire  Selection  9;  Why  Other  Methods  Were  Not  Chosen  10;  Questionnaire  Design  11;  Pre-­‐test  of  Questionnaires  13;  Sampling  13;  Response  Rate  14;  Collection  Method  14;  Sampling  Error  14.    L o n d o n   S o u t h   B a n k   –   M a y   2 0 1 2    
  • 15. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2      2. Introduction       In  this  section  of  the  report,  different  research  methods  will  be  explored  to   determine  which  will  be  effective  to  gather  the  relevant  information  that  will   help  make  recommendations.  Data  collected  for  this  study  needs  to  be   relevant,  accurate  and  reliable.  Both  primary  and  secondary  research  will  be   utilised  to  collate  the  information  required.  Quantitative  and  qualitative   methods  will  be  explored  in  order  to  determine  which  method/  methods  will   be  best  suited  to  collate  primary  data.    2.1. Secondary  Research   Lewis  et  al  (2009)  states  that  secondary  research  can  be  both  raw  data   and  published  summaries.  Secondary  data  is  found  from  many  areas,  such   as  the  Internet,  government  reports,  published  journals  or  newspapers.     Secondary  research  is  fundamental  as  it  provides  a  useful  source  where   answers  or  partial  answers  can  be  found  for  the  study  being  carried  out.       The  advantages  for  using  secondary  research  are,  firstly  resources  are  not   wasted,  as  it  is  very  time  effective  and  cost  effective,  making  data  very   easy  and  quick  to  find.  This  is  particularly  helpful  when  a  report  has  to  be   conducted  in  such  a  short  space  of  time.  It  also  provides  the  study  with  a   lot  of  comparative  and  contextual  information  that  will  help  reinforce  the   report.       However  secondary  research  may  not  be  relevant  to  the  study,  either   being  unsuitable  or  out  of  date,  also  depending  on  the  subject  some  of  the   information  may  be  hard  to  access.      2.2. Primary  Research     Primary  research  involves  a  process  where  raw  data  is  extracted  through     7  
  • 16. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     activities  such  as  surveys,  investigations,  and  even  interviews12.  Raw  data   tends  to  be  data  that  does  not  previously  exist.  Some  of  the  examples  of   primary  research  include:       • Observations  –  This  is  where  observations  are  made  that  are   concerned  with  what  consumers  do,  it  is  done  through   observing  behaviour  recording  descriptions,  analysing  and   interpreting  consumer  behaviour13.  This  would  be  suitable   for  this  study  as  it  involves  looking  at  the  way  consumers   behave  online  with  regards  to  the  content  generated  on   websites  such  as  TripAdvisor     • In-­‐depth,  group  and  semi-­‐structured  interviews  –  This  is   where  a  discussion  is  held  by  two  or  more  people  to  help   gather  information  about  the  study14.  Information  obtained   is  generally  in  depth  and  reliable.  However,  this  will  not  be   suitable  for  this  research  due  to  time  constraints  and  access   to  people.     • Surveys  –  This  is  where  a  survey  is  drawn  up  for  the   purpose  of  the  study  and  a  sample  is  picked  in  order  to  try   and  get  the  best  answers  that  represent  the  population15.   This  will  be  useful  for  this  study  because  a  lot  of   information  can  be  obtained  through  a  survey.  It  is  also   very  cost  effective  and  cheap  to  carry  out.     For  the  purpose  of  this  study  a  survey  will  be  conducted  in  order  to  help   answer  objectives  set  out  in  section  1.2.1.  This  method  was  chosen  above   others  because  a  survey  was  seen  as  the  best  way  to  collect  data  quickly   in  a  standardised  way  making  the  findings  more  objective  than  other   forms  of  research  such  as  interviews.  However  this  could  also  be  a   disadvantage  that  data  is  standardised,  as  it  is  not  possible  to  explain  any                                                                                                                  12  Lewis  et  al,  2009    13  Lewis  et  al,  2009  14  Lewis  et  al,  2009  15  Lewis  et  al,  2009       8  
  • 17. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     points  that  participants  might  be  misinterpreted.  A  survey  will  help  in   answering  the  objectives  set  out  in  section  1.2.1.  As  the  questions  which   will  be  included  in  the  survey  will  be  asked  in  relation  to  the  objectives   and  worded  in  the  best  way  to  answer  the  objectives.      2.3. The  Quantitative  Approach     The  quantitative  approach  would  best  fit  this  report  and  the  survey  as   most  questions  due  to  the  survey  being  carried  out.  Most  information   collated  will  be  from  close-­‐ended  questions.  However,  some  data  will  also   be  collated  with  the  use  of  open-­‐ended  questions.       For  the  purpose  of  this  survey  a  mixture  of  both  close  ended  and  open-­‐ ended  questions  will  be  used  as  part  of  the  survey.  There  are  two  types  of   data  that  can  be  collected.     • Quantitative  data  is  drawn  from  close-­‐ended  questions,  normally   numerical,  one-­‐word  answers  or  statements.  This  will  be   beneficial,  as  it  will  help  this  study  in  finding  accurate  and  relevant   information  that  can  be  quantified.     • Qualitative  data  is  drawn  from  open  ended  questions,  normally   where  the  respondent  is  asked  to  write  a  couple  of  lines  to  express   their  opinion  about  a  statement  or  question.  The  benefits  for  using   this  method  in  a  survey  will  help  reinforce  findings  by  providing   the  study  with  some  statements  and  opinions  made  by  the  sample.       By  incorporating  both  quantitative  and  qualitative  questions  into  the  survey   will  ensure  a  non-­‐biased  approach  is  being  taken,  as  people  will  be  allowed  to   voice  their  opinions  with  the  use  of  open-­‐ended  questions.        2.4. Justification  of  Survey  Selection     There  are  various  reasons  why  a  survey  was  selected  as  the  method  to   collate  and  obtain  data:       9  
  • 18. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     1. Quickest  –  Due  to  time  constraints  this  was  deemed  the  most   effective  and  quickest  way  to  obtain  the  information  required  to   complete  this  study.     2. Resources  –  As  this  study  is  not  funded,  a  survey  was  seen  as  a   good  method  because  it  will  not  cost  a  fortune  in  order  to  carry  out   the  research.   3. Sample  size  –  A  survey  was  also  deemed  the  best  way  to  collate   data  from  the  sample  of  150  people  as  any  other  methods  would   have  been  very  time  consuming  and  also  may  have  been  an   overload  of  information.      2.4.1. Why  Other  Methods  Were  Not  Chosen     There  are  several  reasons  why  other  methods  were  disregarded  from  this   study.  The  primary  reason  was  because  interviews  were  not  designed  to   cope  with  a  large  number  of  respondents,  as  this  would  have  been  very   time  consuming.  Furthermore,  the  information  collected  would  not  be   standardised  and  therefore  it  would  have  taken  a  great  deal  of  time  to   analyse  the  information.  Other  reasons  taken  into  consideration  had  to  do   with  the  interviewer  and  how  they  would  affect  the  consistency  of  the   interview  and  also  if  they  were  to  make  it  biased  in  the  form  they  asked   the  questions.         Observations  were  not  considered  effective  for  this  study  because  it   requires  a  long  time  to  implement  and  apprehend  data.  In  addition  to  this   if  the  consumer  had  awareness  of  that  their  actions  are  being  observed   this  may  have  an  effect  on  findings  being  accurate,  as  the  consumer  may   acted  or  responded  in  an  infrequent  way.       In  addition  to  these  reasons,  the  study  also  felt  that  these  methods  were   not  as  appropriate  to  use,  as  they  would  not  be  the  most  effective  way  to   collate  data  to  help  answer  the  objectives  set  out  in  1.2.1.  The  risk  in  using   these  methods  may  have  meant  that  data  collated  would  not  be  as  vast     10  
  • 19. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     and  strong  to  support  any  recommendations  that  will  be  made  in  the  end   of  this  study.      2.4.2. Survey  Design     In  order  to  find  out  the  relevant  information  that  is  needed,  it  is  necessary   for  a  survey  to  be  implemented.  This  should  help  in  finding  out  consumer   attitudes  towards  websites  such  as  TripAdvisor,  their  thoughts   surrounding  such  websites,  what  their  intentions  are  when  it  comes  to   using  those  sites,  and  also  what  recommendations  they  can  suggest  to   improve  such  sites.       To  help  construct  this  survey,  Bourque  and  Clarke  (1994)  have   highlighted  three  approaches  that  can  be  employed  to  design  the  survey:     1. Adopt  questions   2. Adapt  questions     3. Develop  questions     Furthermore,  the  design  of  the  questions  themselves  play  a  vital  role,  as   there  are  several  types  of  questions  that  can  be  used:     1. Closed  questions  –  DeVaus  (2002)  define  closed  questions  as   force-­‐choice  questions  providing  the  respondents  a  number  of   alternative  answers  from  which  they  can  choose.     2. Open  questions  –  these  types  of  questions  are  where   respondents  are  given  the  opportunity  to  answer  questions  in   their  own  way  (Fink,  2003).     3. List  questions  –  This  is  where  the  respondent  is  provided  with  a   list  of  options  from  which  they  can  choose  more  than  one   answer  (Lewis  et  al,  2009).   4. Category  questions  –  Lewis  et  al  (2009)  states  that  category   questions  are  designed  so  that  each  respondent  can  be  grouped   into  one  category.     5. Rating  questions  –  these  questions  are  used  to  collect  opinion   data  (Lewis  et  al,  2009)  by  asking  the  respondents  whether   they  agree  or  disagree  with  a  statement.       11  
  • 20. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     There  are  other  elements  that  need  to  be  considered  when  designing  a   survey;  two  factors  are  the  order  and  flow  of  questions  and  the  layout.   These  factors  need  to  be  considered  because  it  is  vital  that  the  survey  is   user  friendly,  engaging  and  short  in  length.       The  structure  of  this  survey  was  pretty  simple.  The  main  considerations   that  were  implemented  into  it  were  to  make  it  short,  quick  and  easy  but  at   the  same  time  effective  to  extract  as  much  information  as  possible.  There   were  also  some  other  considerations  that  were  considered  such  as  not   asking  too  much  personal  information  surrounding  the  respondent.  The   first  section  of  the  survey  was  simply  to  know  what  the  respondents  age   group  they  fit  and  what  gender  they  were.       Questions  three  to  five  revolved  around  getting  a  better  understanding   about  the  respondents  travel  purchase  behaviour.  This  was  necessary,  as   it  would  help  get  a  better  understanding  about  the  various  websites  the   respondent  uses  to  purchase  or  plan  to  purchase  a  holiday.         The  final  part  of  the  survey  was  designed  to  consider  the  respondents   attitude  towards  reviews,  their  opinions  surrounding  such  activities  and   also  to  see  if  they  took  part  in  such  activities  themselves.  Question  six  and   seven  also  helped  to  get  a  better  understanding  of  these  reviews  would   affect  any  future  purchases  to  be  made  by  the  consumer.       Question  eight  in  the  survey  asked  to  consideration  what  consumers   thought  that  websites,  such  as  TripAdvisor,  needed  to  change  or  improve   in  their  service.  This  question  was  necessary  because  it  will  help  the  study   in  reaching  recommendations  that  consumers  will  actually  respond  to,   after  all  this  is  a  service  which  caters  to  them.     A  copy  of  the  questionnaire  used  for  this  study  can  be  found  under   appendix  A.           12  
  • 21. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2    2.4.3. Pre-­‐test  of  Surveys     In  order  to  ensure  that  the  survey  was  fit  for  purpose,  and  complied  with   the  design  methods  outlined  in  sections  pre-­‐test  surveys  were   distributed  to  five  individuals  to  complete.  This  helped  determine  the   effectiveness  of  the  survey  and  whether  any  changes  need  to  be  made  to   the  survey  before  it  went  live.  Pre-­‐tests  also  help  to  get  a  general  idea  of   what  findings  of  the  sample  is  going  to  be  like.  This  also  helps  in  seeing   what  the  respondents  also  thought  about  the  layout  of  the  survey  and   whether  there  needs  to  be  any  improvements  made  to  its  layout  to  make   it  more  user  friendly.  Changes  made  to  the  survey  can  be  found  in   appendix  E.      2.5. Sampling     Collecting  responses  from  an  entire  population  can  be  very  difficult.  A   sample  population  provides  an  alternative  to  obtain  findings  from  a   representative  number  of  people.  There  are  several  advantages   highlighted  by  Lewis  et  al,  (2009)  to  using  sample  population:     1. More  practical  and  feasible     2. Budget  constraint     3. Time  constraints     Lewis  et  al,  (2009)  states  that  there  are  two  types  of  sampling  techniques:     1. Probability  sampling  –  Mostly  used  for  survey-­‐based  research   where  inferences  are  made  from  the  sample  about  a  population   to  answer  questions  to  meet  the  objectives.     2. Non-­‐probability  sampling  –  This  provides  an  alternative   technique  to  select  samples  based  on  subjective  judgements.  It   is  mainly  used  in  cases  of  pilot  surveys.     As  this  a  survey  based  activity,  probability  sampling  was  seen  to  best  fit   the  technique  that  should  be  used  for  the  purpose  of  collating  data.  The   sample  size  of  this  survey  will  consist  of  150  respondents.  Statistical   probability  may  be  difficult  to  implement  in  this  study  due  to  the  number   of  respondents  not  being  large  enough.  The  sample  will  include  both   female  and  male  respondents  from  various  age  groups.  The  main  target     13  
  • 22. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     group  is  25-­‐55.  The  respondents  must  also  be  users  of  TripAdvisor  or   similar  websites.      2.5.1. Response  Rate     The  main  disadvantage  of  using  a  survey  is  the  number  of  low  response   rates  that  they  receive.  This  study  aims  to  obtain  at  least  a  40%  response   rate.  In  order  to  encourage  a  higher  response  rate,  £20  Love2Shop   vouchers  will  be  awarded  to  three  of  the  respondents,  at  random,  for   taking  part  in  the  questionnaire.        2.6. Collection  Method   Where:  Oxford  Street,  Bond  Street,  and  Tottenham  Court  Road   Dates:  January  9th,  2012  until  January  13th,  2012     Time:  30  surveys  will  be  filled  out  on  each  day  of  the  week  from  the   hours  of  9  am  to  5  pm.  15  of  the  surveys  need  to  be  from  TripAdvisor   consumers  and  the  remainder  from  consumers  that  use  websites  similar   to  TripAdvisor     Justification:  Due  to  the  amount  of  people  who  commute  around  these   locations  they  were  seen  best  fit  to  carry  out  this  research.  Also  there  is  a   mixed  diversity  of  people  that  will  be  exposed  to  this  survey  and   therefore  make  the  collection  of  data  more  simple  and  less  time   consuming.      2.7. Sampling  Error     This  report  acknowledges  the  room  for  sampling  error  is  a  high  risk.  This   in  itself  has  a  drawback  for  not  being  representative  of  the  population.   Had  more  time  been  allocated  to  obtaining  data  the  study  would  have   sought  after  a  much  larger  sample  size  and  extended  to  getting  responses   online,  and  from  other  areas  of  the  United  Kingdom  and  not  just  the   capital.         14  
  • 23. RESEARCH  METHODOLOGY     2     This  study  accepts  that  the  results  obtained  may  not  be  entirely  valid,   consistent  and  reliable  as  they  may  be  deemed  as  biased,  as  other   respondents  from  the  Internet  or  other  areas  of  the  United  Kingdom  may   have  different  perceptions  of  TripAdvisor  and  similar  websites.       15  
  • 24. 16   LITERATURE  REVIEW       3     Chapter      Literature  Review    Chapter  3  Consumer  Behaviour  17;  Consumer  Decision  Process  Model  17;  Search  for  Information  18;  Post-­‐Consumption  Evaluation  20;  Importance  of  Customer  Satisfaction  20;  Word-­‐Of-­‐Mouth  21;  Good  vs.  Bad  Reviews  23;  The  Minus  Levels  23;  The  Plus  Levels  24;  Level  Zero  25;  Cognitive  Dissonance  25;  Summary  26;  L o n d o n   S o u t h   B a n k   –   M a y   2 0 1 2    
  • 25. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3      3. Consumer  Behaviour   Consumer  behaviour  derives  from  activities  consumers  undertake  when   they  obtain,  consume  and  dispose  a  product  or  service16.  From  the  definition   Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  highlights  the  three  activities  that  form  the  consumer   behaviour  process:     1. Obtaining  –  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  defines  this  as  the  activities  that   lead  up  to  the  purchase  of  a  product  or  service,  and  also  the  actual   purchase  of  the  product.     2. Consuming  –  This  activity  revolves  around  how,  where,  when  and   under  what  circumstances  the  product  or  service  obtained  was   consumed17.       3. Disposing  –  This  action  is  where  the  product  or  service  is  consumed   and  the  consumer  wishes  to  dispose  of  the  product  or  service18.    3.1.1. Consumer  Decision  Process  Model     Deriving  from  The  John  Dewey  model  (Dewey,  1910)  Blackwell  et  al   (2006)  describes  the  decisions  making  process  as  a  road  map  of   consumers  minds  that  marketers  can  use  to  help  them  guide  the  product   mix.  The  purpose  of  this  model  (figure  1)  is  to  capture  the  activities  that   occur  when  decisions  are  made,  showing  how  internal  and  external   forces  affect  the  way  consumers  think,  evaluate,  and  act.       From  this  model  it  is  evident  that  consumers  go  through  seven  different   stages.  The  stages  that  will  be  explored  further  for  the  purpose  of  this   study  are  the  need  to  search  for  information  and  also  post  consumption   evaluation.  In  order  to  better  understand  why  consumers  use   TripAdvisor  and  similar  websites  it  is  important  to  explore  why  there  is  a   need  to  search  for  information  before  making  purchases  and  also  why   people  take  part  in  post  consumption  evaluations.                                                                                                                    16    Blackwell  et  al,  (2006)  17  Blackwell  et  al,  (2006)  18  Blackwell  et  al,  (2006)     17  
  • 26. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3     Figure  1:  Decision  Making  Process     Pre-­‐ Purchase,   Post-­‐ Need   Search  for   Purchase   Recognition   information   evalation  of   Purchase     Divestment     evaluation   alternatives     Adapted  from  Blythe,  2008    3.2. Search  for  Information     This  activity  takes  place  before  making  a  purchase,  and  where  websites   such  as  TripAdvisor  play  a  huge  role  in  making  purchases.  Both  Blythe   (2008)  and  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  agree  that  this  activity  draws   information  from  internal  and  external  sources  (figure  2).  Internal   sources  tend  to  derive  from  the  consumers  memory,  having  purchased   that  item  previously  or  from  previous  experience.  However  if  this  is  not   the  case,  then  internal  sources  may  not  be  sufficient,  which  then  makes   way  for  secondary  sources.       Blythe  (2008)  and  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  agree  that  information  sought   by  consumers  can  either  be  marketer-­‐dominated  or  non-­‐marketer   dominated:     1. Marketer  domination  –  Blythe  (2008)  describes  this  as   information  that  is  shared  via  advertising,  brochures,  websites,   sales  people  and  so  forth.     2. Non-­‐marketer  domination  –  This  is  information  is  shared  via   friends,  family,  opinion  leader  and  so  forth  (Blythe,  2008).  This     18  
  • 27. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3     type  of  information  is  shared  through  word  of  mouth  and  word   of  mouse  methods.       Pre-­‐purchase  activities  such  as  internal  and  external  research  are   important  for  consumers  as  people  often  discuss  their  experiences  when   purchasing,  using  and  disposing  a  product.    These  discussions  are  vital  to   TripAdvisor  and  similar  websites  as  they  are  the  spine  of  the   organisation.       Blythe  (2008)  and  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  state  that  non-­‐marketer   dominated  information  is  more  powerful  that  market  dominated   communications  as  word  of  mouth  interactions  it  involves  discussion   between  a  number  of  parties,  allowing  a  two  way  communication.  There   is  also  a  belief  that  sources  such  as  family  and  friends  are  more  trusted   because  they  have  a  non-­‐profit  motive.       Figure  2:  Information  Searching   Internal  search    Information   gap  /  new   Information   purchase   gaps   problem   reduced  but   Marketer  generated     not   eliminated     External  search   Non-­‐marketer     generated       Adapted  from  Blythe,  2008             19  
  • 28. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3    3.3. Post-­‐Consumption  Evaluation     As  seen  from  the  Consumer  Decision  Process  Model  (figure  1)  a   fundamental  part  of  our  purchasing  process  involves  the  need  to  search   for  information  about  products  and  services.  This  information  has  to   originate  from  somewhere,  thus  making  way  for  post-­‐consumption   evaluation.  This  step  of  the  model  takes  place  after  the  consumer  has   purchased  and  consumed  the  product  or  service.  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)   states  that  depending  on  consumption  experience  the  consumer  will   either  change  their  attitude  towards  the  object  or  reinforce  it.       These  attitudes,  as  discussed  by  Blythe  (2008)  and  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)   tend  to  revolve  around  the  satisfaction  or  dissatisfaction  of  the  product  or   service  that  the  consumer  has  experienced.  Therefore,  there  is  a  great   importance  that  organisations  pay  great  attention  to  ensuring  the   consumers  are  always  satisfied.  If  organisations  fail  to  comply  with  this   then  the  damage  can  be  severe  for  the  organisations  image.      3.3.1. Importance  of  Customer  Satisfaction     There  is  now  a  great  importance  for  companies  to  be  concerned  about   customer  satisfaction.  Why  this  great  importance?  The  most  obvious   reason  as  highlighted  by  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  is  the  need  for  repeat   business.  However  there  are  also  other  important  points  that  Blythe   (2008),  Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  and  Evans  et  al  (2006)  need  to  be   considered:     1. Influence  –  Not  only  is  the  individual’s  satisfaction  and  repeat   business  important  but  also  it  is  the  individual’s  influence  over   other  people  purchasing  habits.  In  other  words  if  a  consumer   has  a  bad  experience  not  only  is  he  unlikely  to  go  purchase  or   use  that  organisations  service  again  but  he  will  also  deter  other   people  within  his  friends,  family  and  peers  circle  from   purchasing  from  that  organisation  as  well.  This  in  turn  can  be   very  costly  for  an  organisation,  as  Blackwell  (2006)  states  that     20  
  • 29. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3     it  costs  an  organisation  twenty  times  more  to  attract  new   customers  than  to  retain  loyal  customers.       2. Satisfaction  shapes  Word-­‐of-­‐Mouth  and  Word-­‐of-­‐Mouse  –  This  is   by  far  the  most  important  factor  as  not  only  does  satisfaction   shape  future  purchase  but  also  the  way  it  controls  the  way   people  communicate  about  the  product  and  service.  As  stated   in  the  first  point  a  consumer  with  a  bad  experience  will  be   more  likely  to  discourage  friends,  family  and  peers  from   purchasing  from  an  organisation  if  they  have  a  bad  experience.   Blackwell  et  al  (2006)  also  highlights  that  consumers  are  more   likely  to  discuss  bad  experiences  and  go  to  great  lengths  to  do   so  than  sharing  positive  experiences.     3. Complaints  and  lawsuits  –  In  addition  to  deterring  customers   and  stirring  bad  word  of  mouth,  satisfaction  can  also  lead  an   organisation  to  be  faced  with  unwanted  complaints  and   lawsuits.  Not  only  is  this  damaging  to  an  organisation  but  also   it  brings  some  unwanted  attention  to  the  company  causing   even  more  negative  word  of  mouth.  However  this  time  it  would   be  more  public  and  more  people  will  hear  and  talk  about  it.      3.4. Word-­‐of-­‐Mouth     Blythe  (2008),  Fill  (2011),  and  Silverman  (2001)  all  agree  that  word  of   mouth  is  the  most  powerful  force  in  the  marketplace.  To  reinforce  this   statement,  Silverman  (2001)  includes  a  quote  from  Dr.  Paddi  Lund  where   he  says:       “Even  those  deaf  to  the  bragging  cries  of  the  marketplace  will  listen  to  a   friend”     Silverman  (2001)  defines  word  of  mouth  as  the  communication  about   products  and  services  between  independent  consumers  who  have   nothing  to  do  with  the  organisation.  This  communication  also  takes  place     21  
  • 30. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3     in  a  medium  that  is  independent  from  the  organisations,  either  as  one-­‐ way  testimonials  or  conversations.       The  development  of  the  Internet,  as  discussed  in  section  1  of  this  study,   has  meant  that  word  of  mouse  communication  is  now  being  used  as  a   platform  for  consumers  to  communicate  about  their  experiences.  Fill   (2011)  has  also  highlighted  that  this  will  be  the  future  of  word  of  mouth.   Mintel  (2011)  has  also  state  that  more  people  are  now  finding  themselves   within  easy  access  to  the  Internet.       Both  Blythe  (2008)  and  Silverman  (2001)  state  that  word  of  mouth  is  a   powerful  persuader,  as  it  is  not  canned  like  most  company’s   communications.  They  both  also  believe  that  it  is  the  most  honest   medium  as  it  is  customer  driven  and  there  is  no  beneficial  gain  when   communicating  their  experiences.  The  greatest  advantage  to  using  word   of  mouth  is  that  it  feeds  on  itself.  This  opinion  is  also  shared  with  Blythe   (2008),  Fill  (2011)  and  Silverman  (2001).  For  example  if  ten  consumers   had  ten  experiences,  in  total  they  would  have  had  a  hundred  experiences   and  so  on.  This  is  very  effective  as  it  helps  create  a  dissonance  effect   because  “everybody  is  talking  about  it”,  which  in  turn  helps  provide   additional  confirmation  to  a  consumer  looking  to  purchase  a  product.       It  is  also  worth  mentioning  that  Blythe  (2008),  Fill  (2011)  and  Silverman   (2001)  all  highlight  that  word  of  mouth  can  also  be  either  good  or  bad.   They  state  that  bad  reviews  travel  faster  than  good  reviews.  People  are   also  more  likely  to  talk  about  their  bad  experiences  more  so  than  their   good  experiences.  A  finding  from  the  Coca  Cola  Company  in  198119  found   that  12%  of  people  told  20  or  more  people  about  the  companies  response   to  their  complaints,  where  are  those  who  were  satisfied  only  told  a   median  of  four  to  five  others  about  their  experiences.                                                                                                                      19  Blythe,  2008     22  
  • 31. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3    3.4.1. Good  vs.  Bad  reviews         By  now  this  study  has  discovered  that  word  of  mouth  is  not  the  same  as  it   comes  in  different  forms,  either  negative  or  positive.  Silverman  (2001)   expands  this  further  by  introducing  the  idea  that  word  of  mouth  has  got   nine  different  levels.  These  levels  range  from  minus  four  (negative  word  of   mouth)  to  plus  four  (positive  word  of  mouth). The  Minus  Levels     -­‐4. Minus  four  –  Described  by  Silverman  (2001)  as  the  level  where   people  are  all  complaining  about  a  product  or  services.  These   complaints  are  so  severe  that  they  are  in  fact  a  public  scandal.   A  recent  example  of  this  type  of  level  was  the  Toyota  scandal   where  several  of  their  cars  had  to  be  recalled  due  to  faulty  gas   pedals.  This  level  is  very  hard  to  survive,  and  often  the  only   ways  companies  survive  is  because  the  company  is  so  trusted   or  favoured  that  nothing  can  taint  their  image.     -­‐3. Minus  three  –  Silverman  (2001)  states  that  although  it  is  similar   to  minus  four,  in  this  level  people  and  ex-­‐consumers  go  out  of   their  way  to  spread  bad  word  of  mouth  about  a  product  or   service,  however  the  level  of  scandal  is  not  as  public  as  minus   four.     -­‐2. Minus  two  –  This  level  involves  customers  having  rants  about  a   product  or  service  mainly  bad  mouthing  the  brand  (Silverman,   2011).  This  level  still  has  a  negative  effect  on  sales  making   them  erode  however  not  as  fast  as  minus  three  and  minus  four,   as  consumers  are  still  not  actively  seeking  to  spread  bad  word   of  mouth.     -­‐1. Minus  one  –  At  this  stage  Silverman  (2001)  explains  that  people   are  not  complaining  about  a  product  or  service.  Unless  they  are   questioned  about  the  product  or  service,  only  then  will  the  talk   about  their  bad  experience  with  the  product.  This  level  is  also   not  as  damaging  as  the  other  minus  levels  as  people  still   purchase  the  product  despite  the  negative  word  of  mouth.       23  
  • 32. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3 The  Plus  Levels     1. Plus  one  –  Silverman  (2001)  states  that  this  level  is  where   consumers  only  say  nice  things  about  a  product  or  service   when  asked.  This  level  good  for  conventional  marketing,   because  if  executed  correctly  it  could  increase  the  product  from   a  level  one  to  a  level  2.     2. Plus  two  –  At  this  level  people  are  raving  about  a  product  or   service  and  are  actively  seeking  to  inform  people  about  how   wonderful  a  product  or  service  was  (Silverman,  2001).  At  this   level  an  organisation  would  damage  it  resources  to  invest  in   conventional  marketing.  As  discussed  before  nothing  beats  the   word  of  mouth  recommendations  from  a  friend,  family  or  peer.   Therefore  any  money  spent  on  conventional  marketing  at  this   stage  would  be  wasted.     3. Plus  three  –  This  level  is  similar  to  level  two  however  Silverman   (2001)  highlights  that  at  this  level  people  start  going  out  of   their  way  to  communicate  their  positive  experience  about  a   product  or  service.  Silverman  (2001)  also  states  that  at  this   level  people  will  be  talking  about  products  and  services  at   places  such  as  social  gatherings,  business  gatherings  and  other   important  events.     4. Plus  four  –  This  level  is  the  optimum  level  that  a  product  and   service  would  like  to  experience.  Silverman  (2001)  highlights   that  at  this  level  a  product  or  service  is  being  continually  talked   about  that  people  are  asking  each  other  about  and  also  getting   more  than  one  good  review  about  the  product  from  various   people.  There  is  also  a  great  number  of  publicity  surrounding   the  product  encouraging  people  to  purchase  the  product  or   service.  Silverman  (2001)  also  states  that  although  this  is   where  every  product  aims  to  be,  this  is  where  most  products   reach  the  destruction  and  demise,  as  it  is  pivotal  that  people   expectations  are  managed  and  that  the  product  or  service  will   be  expected  to  deliver  more  than  expected  from  now  on.     24  
  • 33. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3 Level  Zero     At  this  level  Silverman  (2001)  sates  that  people  are  buying  your   product  but  there  is  either  a  bad  or  a  good  attitude  towards  the   product.  However,  anything  bad  affecting  the  image  can  cause  it  to   lapse  into  the  negative  levels  causing  its  destruction.  On  the  other   hand  with  the  correct  marketing  it  could  also  help  push  the   product  into  the  first  two  plus  levels  of  the  scale  making  people   talk  about  the  product  more  and  increasing  sales.       3.5. Cognitive  Dissonance     Blythe  (2008)  describes  cognitive  dissonance  as  the  psychological  tension   that  two  distinctive  decisions  or  ideas  can  affect  consumer  behaviour.  In   1950,  Carl  Festinger  conducted  an  experiment  to  see  what  motivated   people  to  lie.  In  this  experiment  students  were  asked  to  do  a  boring  task   and  then  later  recruit  their  friends  to  do  the  same  experiment.  However,   they  were  paid  sums  of  money  to  lie  whilst  recruiting  telling  people  that   the  activity  was  fun.  Carl  Festinger  justified  these  actions  by  stating  that   students  could  not  justify  their  statements  as  they  themselves  believed   this  lie  as  they  got  paid.       In  order  to  reduce  cognitive  dissonance  Blythe  (2008)  and  Evans  et  al   (2006)  have  highlighted  various  ways  that  can  be  considered  when  it   comes  to  dissonance.       Figure  3:  Model  on  Cognitive  Reduction       Expected  outcome     Ignore  dissonant  information  and   seek  constant  information     Post-­‐   Distort  the  dissonant  information     purchase    dissonance     Minimize  the  importance  of  the  issue       Actual  outcome     Change  ones  behaviour     Adapted  from  Blythe,  2008     25  
  • 34. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3     1. Ignore  dissonant  information  and  seek  constant  information  –   According  to  Blythe,  (2008)  this  outcome  is  where  a  consumer  has   made  a  purchase  and  then  informs  a  friend  or  family  member  of   how  bad  the  services  or  product  is.    However,  the  friend  here   choses  to  ignore  this  new  information  and  perform  their  own   research  surrounding  the  product  or  service  to  confirm  the   reputation  of  the  supplier.  This  outcome  can  be  linked  to  the   minus  one  level  from  the  word  of  mouth  levels  theory  by   Silverman  (2001)     2. Distort  dissonant  information  –  Blythe  (2008)  states  that  this   outcome  is  somewhat  similar  to  the  first  however,  here  the   consumer  agrees  with  the  information  that  is  said  about  the   supplier’s  bad  reputation,  and  thinks  that  this  bad  reputation  will   not  have  an  effect  on  the  products  performance.    This  can  be   related  to  TripAdvisor  they  are  currently  experiencing  some   negativity  towards  their  brand,  however  a  large  number  of  people   still  use  it.     3. Minimize  the  importance  of  the  issue  –  This  again  is  very  similar  to   the  previous  outcome,  however  at  this  stage  the  consumer  agrees   that  the  supplier  has  a  bad  reputation,  but  believes  that  this  has  no   effect  on  the  product  itself  that  is  manifested  perfectly  all  right   (Blythe,  2008).     4. Change  one’s  behaviour  –  This  outcome  is  where  the  consumer  is   completely  not  satisfied  with  the  product  or  service  and  goes  back   for  a  refund  and  makes  no  further  purchases  of  it  in  the  future   (Blyhe,  2008).      3.6. Summary     In  summary  it  is  fair  to  say  that  word  of  mouth  is  a  very  important  aspect   for  any  organisation  that  wishes  to  strive  in  the  economy.  It  is  also   evident  that  customer  satisfaction  helps  shape  the  way  word  of  mouth  is   communicated  in  terms  of  negative  and  positive  reviews.  Websites  such   as  TripAdvisor  are  directly  affected  by  word  of  mouth,  as  any  bad     26  
  • 35. LITERATURE  REVIEW     3     repercussions  can  damage  the  image  of  the  organisation.  From  chapter  1   section  1,  it  was  evident  that  companies  and  consumers  about  the  validity   of  their  reviews  and  their  accuracy  are  attacking  TripAdvisor.       By  conducting  this  literature  review  this  study  has  learned  a  lot  about  the   effects  of  bad  reviews  and  customers  satisfaction,  which  in  turn  has   helped  in  answer  initial  questions  revolving  objectives  1  and  objectives  3,   which  can  be  found  in  section  1.2.1.  This  literature  review  has  made  it   more  clearly  how  consumer-­‐purchasing  behaviours  are  affected  via  good   and  bad  reviews  through  the  nine  levels  defined  by  Silverman  (2001).  In   addition  to  this,  the  study  has  also  discovered  that  consumers  tend  to   trust  reviews  and  recommendation  made  by  family,  friends  and  other   peers  over  market-­‐dominated  methods  as  highlighted  by  Blythe  (2008)   and  Blackwell  et  al  (2006).   27  
  • 36.    
  • 37. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     28      4     Chapter  Research  Findings    Chapter  4    Introduction  29;  Microsoft  Excel  29;  Response  Rate  29;  The  Respondents  29;  Before  Purchasing  a  Holiday  30;  Recent  Holidays  31;  TripAdvisor  33;  Existing  Reviews  33;  Word  of  Mouth  36;  Recommendations  from  Respondents  39    L o n d o n   S o u t h   B a n k   –   M a y   2 0 1 2  
  • 38. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4    4. Introduction    During  this  chapter  of  the  study,  an  outline  of  the  data  software  package  used  will  be  provided  with  a  reason  as  to  why  it  was  chosen.  This  section  will  also  focus  on  findings  from  the  survey  carried  out  on  the  sample  population  highlighted  in  chapter  2.      In  addition  to  interpreting  the  data  collated,  this  chapter  will  also  focus  on  evaluating  these  findings  and  integrating  them  with  the  secondary  research  carried  out  in  chapter  3  in  order  to  help  give  an  in  depth  analysis  from  which  recommendations  and  a  conclusion  can  be  drawn.      4.1. Microsoft  Excel    In  order  to  illustrate  the  findings  from  the  survey  in  a  presentable  way  that  looked  both  professional  and  easy  to  read  the  software  package  Microsoft  Excel  was  utilised  (Appendix  B).    Excel  was  chosen  over  other  software’s  as  it  is  a  very  straightforward  to  use,  presenting  data  in  a  professional  and  easy  to  read  manner.    4.2. Response  Rate    As  set  out  in  chapter  2,  the  response  that  this  study  was  seeking  was  40%,  however  with  130  respondents,  the  response  rate  to  the  survey  was  in  fact  87%.  Stopping  people  in  the  middle  of  Oxford  Street,  Bond  Street  and  Tottenham  Court  Road  proved  extremely  difficult  with  many  people  rushing  to  go  where  they  needed  to  be.  However,  as  the  interviewer  was  approachable,  this  made  the  task  simpler  to  carry  out.          4.3. The  Respondents    (Appendix  B,  page  50-­‐51)  This  section  of  the  study  will  focus  on  the  respondents  that  were  surveyed.  The  majority  of  the  respondents  that  took  part  in  this  survey  were  mainly  female.  They  represented  66%  of  the  sample  population,  as  they  were  more  responsive  to  the  survey.  The  main  age  group  that  most  of  the  people  surveyed  derived  from  people  aged  40-­‐44  as  they  represented  24%  of  the  sample  population.  Although     29  
  • 39. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4    the  survey  was  targeted  towards  people  aged  25-­‐44,  there  was  a  number  of  people  aged  18-­‐24  sampled,  representing  4%  of  the  findings.  Other  age  groups  all  represented  more  or  less  equal  share  in  the  survey  with  each  group  having  around  13-­‐15%  input  into  the  findings  from  the  survey.        4.4. Before  Purchasing  a  Holiday  (Appendix  B,  page  52-­‐53)    These  questions  as  a  whole  were  aimed  at  finding  out  which  websites  the  sample  population  used  to  conduct  their  research  surrounding  holidays  before  they  made  a  purchase.  Overall  the  survey  found  that  around  89%  of  the  sample  conducted  research-­‐surrounding  holidays  before  they  made  a  purchase  by  looking  at  reviews.  In  addition  to  this,  the  survey  also  found  that  55%  of  the  89%  of  people  who  conducted  research  used  TripAdvisor  as  their  main  source  for  information.  It  is  fair  to  say  that  TripAdvisor  was  the  most  popular  as  the  majority  of  the  respondents  used  it,  and  any  other  competitor  was  far  behind.  With  10%  of  the  sample  choosing  Thompson,  this  was  the  only  other  popular  website  that  the  survey  used  for  research.  The  rest  of  the  competitors  all  had  less  than  10%  proving  to  be  less  popular  with  the  sample.    There  are  various  reasons  surrounding  this,  for  example  TravelRepublic  and  IceLolly  are  both  budget  websites  displaying  “Party  Destination”  holidays,  therefore  proving  to  be  more  popular  with  the  younger  generations,  aged  18-­‐24.  This  demographic  was  not  represented  fairly  in  the  survey  as  they  only  represented  4%  of  the  sample.  TripAdvisor  certified  to  be  more  popular  with  people  aged  30  plus.    The  11%  of  the  sample  population  sampled  who  did  not  take  part  in  researching  for  holidays  online  more  or  less  shared  the  same  reasons.  From  analysing  their  comments,  the  majority  of  people  sampled  stated  that  the  do  not  research  the  holiday  because  it  is  a  destination  that  they  have  previously  been  to,  and/or  their  home  country.  Others  stated  that  they  do  not  conduct  research  online,  as  they  preferred  to  go  into  travel  agents  and  book  their  holiday  from  them  as  they  feel  that  they  cannot  trust  the  Internet  for  booking  holidays.         30  
  • 40. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4      4.5. Recent  Holidays  (Appendix  B,  page  54-­‐58)       The  purposes  of  these  questions  were  to  help  get  a  better  understanding   about  the  respondents  recent  holidays  and  how  they  went  about   purchasing  a  holiday.  From  the  sample  questioned,  72%  of  the  people   surveyed  claimed  that  they  had  been  on  holiday  in  the  past  12  months,   with  94%  of  them  researching  about  the  holiday  before  purchasing.   However,  this  conflicts  findings  made  in  question  three  where  89%  of  the   people  said  they  researched  a  holiday  before  purchasing.  This  may   because  people  may  have  interpreted  question  4a  as  any  type  of  research   and  not  just  online  reviews.       This  question  was  also  designed  to  find  out  overall  what  the  sample   population  thought  about  the  information  that  they  found  before   purchasing.  The  general  attitude  amongst  the  sample  population  was  very   positive,  with  85%  of  the  sample  rating  information  they  found  at  a  6  and   above.  From  the  people  sampled,  20%  claimed  that  they  were  very   satisfied  with  information  they  found  compared  to  the  2%  that  were   dissatisfied.  When  the  sample  was  asked  if  this  information  played  a  role   in  their  decision  to  purchase  the  holiday,  57%  of  the  respondents  said   yes,  and  28%  said  partly.       The  survey  also  found  that  the  majority  of  people  surveyed  also  stated   that  the  reviews  that  they  found  were  positive.  Around  22%  of  the  people   surveyed  said  that  reviews  were  mostly  good.  The  relation  from  how   satisfied  the  respondent  was  with  the  information  found  online  to  how   good  the  information  was  provides  a  strong  correlation  (figure  4).  The   majority  of  people  sampled  (84%)  thought  that  the  feedback  that  they   found  online  was  mainly  positive  and  good.               31  
  • 41. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4       Figure  4.  Relation  Between  how  satisfied  the  sample  were  with  information  they   found  online  compared  to  how  good/bad  the  information  was                           1  -­‐  Very   2     3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  -­‐  Very  Disati`ied  /     Sastis`ied  /  Mostly  Bad   Mostly  Good     Satisfaction   Information   Linear  (Satisfaction)   Linear  (Information)       Only  2%  of  the  people  sampled  thought  that  the  reviews  were  mainly  bad,   this  may  be  related  to  the  websites  that  they  used  for  example  those  less   popular  as  highlighted  in  section  4.4.  There  could  also  be  a  strong  relation   between  TripAdvisor  and  those  people  in  the  sample  who  have  been   pleased  with  the  information  they  found  as  it  was  the  most  popular   website  to  use.     4.6. TripAdvisor  (Appendix  B,  page  59)   When  asked  whether  or  not  the  sample  population  used  TripAdvisor  to   conduct  any  research  towards  purchasing  a  holiday,  51%  of  the  sample   stated  that  they  did  not  use  TripAdvisor.  The  findings  for  this  question   were  more  or  less  50-­‐50,  this  helped  the  study  getting  a  good  view  as  to   what  people  thought  when  it  came  to  why  they  did  and  why  they  did  not   use  TripAdvisor.       32  
  • 42. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4       There  was  49%  of  the  sample  population  who  used  TripAdvisor  to   research  holidays  before  making  a  purchase.  In  summary  to  the  opinions   expressed  the  majority  of  people  who  used  TripAdvisor  did  so  because   they  had  been  recommended  by  a  friend  to  use  the  website.  Others  also   said  that  it  was  one  of  the  first  options  that  appeared  after  using  a  search   engine  such  as  Google.  A  minority  of  people  sampled  said  they  had   previously  used  the  website  and  were  pleased  with  information  they   found.  They  also  said  that  after  returning  from  holiday  they  went  back  to   TripAdvisor  to  add  their  own  feedback  to  help  others.       Various  people  from  the  sample  also  stated  that  they  liked  using   TripAdvisor  and  websites  that  are  similar  because  they  felt  that  the   information  was  more  accurate  than  of  what  you  would  find  in  a  travel   agent.  This  was  due  to  them  thinking  that  travel  agents  are  more  likely  to   be  biased  to  selling  and  making  profit,  whereas  people  posting  reviews   online  had  not  financial  gain  from  this.       The  remaining  51%  of  the  sample  that  did  not  use  TripAdvisor  stated  that   they  did  not  trust  the  website  after  hearing  some  negative  things  being   said  about  the  website  from  friends  and  family.  Three  to  four  people   stated  that  they  did  not  even  know  what  TripAdvisor  was.  However  the   majority  of  people  shared  the  opinion  that  the  information  on   TripAdvisor  is  biased  to  push  and  encourage  sales,  claiming  that  people   put  on  false  information  just  to  get  people  to  buy.  This  was  backed  up  by  a   couple  of  people  who  stated  that  they  had  seen  good  review  about  a  trip   however,  the  trip  turned  into  a  total  nightmare.      4.7. Existing  Reviews  (Appendix  B,  page  60-­‐65)   The  following  question  was  designed  to  see  how  strongly  the  respondents   agreed  or  disagreed  with  a  certain  statement  or  sentence.  There  were  six   different  statements  in  this  questions  whereby  respondents  had  to  select   whether  they  agreed  or  disagreed  with  the  statement.       33  
  • 43. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4       1. Q6a  (Appendix  B,  page  60)  –  This  statement  asked  the  sample  how   strongly  they  agreed  or  disagreed  to  being  more  likely  to  purchase   a  product  after  reading  a  positive  review  about  a  product.  The   outcome  was  pretty  positive,  30%  of  people  strongly  agreed  that   they  were  more  likely  to  purchase  a  product  after  reading  a   positive  review  compared  to  the  11%  who  strongly  disagreed.   There  was  a  moderate  amount  of  people  (24%)  who  neither   agreed  nor  disagreed.  With  the  majority  of  people  agreeing  and   strongly  agreeing  with  this  statement  it  is  evident  that  people  do   trust  good  reviews  they  find  on  products,  and  only  a  minority  of   people  that  doubt  these  feedbacks  and  chose  to  ignore  them.     2. Q6b  (Appendix  B,  page  61)  –  This  statement  questioned  whether   the  sample  agreed  or  disagreed  that  after  reading  a  bad  review   about  a  product  they  are  less  likely  to  buy  it.  Relating  back  to   Silverman  (2001)  theory  on  the  nine  levels  of  word  of  mouth,  the   findings  from  this  statement  can  be  related  to  the  theory.  There   was  a  number  of  people  strongly  agreed  with  this  statement,  in  fact   27%  of  the  population  strongly  agreed,  and  21%  of  the  population   just  agreed.  These  people  can  relate  well  to  the  minus  4  and  3   levels  of  Silverman  (2001)  for  being  put  off  purchasing  a  product   due  to  all  the  negative  and  public  scandals.  However,  20%  of   people  neither  agreed  nor  disagree  with  this  statement.  A  further   19%  disagreed  with  this  statement,  and  13%  strongly  disagreed.   These  people  relate  to  levels  minus  2,  and  1  of  the  Silverman   (2001)  theory  as  although  there  is  bad  word  of  mouth  surrounding   the  product  they  are  still  likely  to  purchase  it.     3. Q6c  (Appendix  B,  page  62)  –  The  main  purpose  of  TripAdvisor  is  to   provide  people  with  reviews  about  holidays,  however  if  people  do   not  trust  these  reviews  then  what  is  the  purpose  of  them.  This   statement  was  asked  in  order  to  find  out  the  sample  populations   thoughts  and  attitudes  towards  reviews  found  on  TripAdvisor.   Less  than  half  of  the  population  sample  strongly  agreed  to  trust     34  
  • 44. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4     reviews  made  online  on  TripAdvisor.  In  actual  fact  around  two   thirds  of  the  sample  both  agreed  and  strongly  agreed  with   statement.  Only  9%  of  the  population  strongly  disagreed  with  this   statement,  and  a  further  11%  just  disagreed.  This  is  relatively  low   compared  to  the  amount  of  people  that  trust  online  reviews.  This   conflicts  findings  in  question  five  where  people  stated  that  they  did   not  use  TripAdvisor  because  they  felt  like  they  did  not  trust  the   website,  whereas  in  this  question  48%  of  people  strongly  agreed   with  trusting  online  reviews.  However,  did  the  respondents  solely   not  trust  TripAdvisor?     4. Q6d  (Appendix  B,  page  63)  –  Feedback  and  reviews  can  be  found  in   many  places,  such  as  tour  advisors,  organisations  and  online.  When   the  sample  population  were  asked  whether  or  not  they  trusted   online  feedback  over  feedback  provided  from  an  organisation  66%   of  them  strongly  agreed  with  the  statement.  This  was  contrary  to   the  1%  that  completely  disagreed  and  2%  whom  just  disagreed.   From  this  it  is  evident  that  the  people  sampled  for  this  survey   preferred  to  find  their  information  online  rather  than  go  into  the   store.  This  can  be  related  to  findings  from  question  5a  where  some   of  the  sample  population  actually  stated  that  organisations  are   more  likely  to  be  biased  with  feedback,  as  they  need  to  make   profits.  Whereas,  a  person  posting  a  review  online  is  less  likely  to   be  biased  or  lie  because  they  are  not  gaining  anything  financially   from  the  feedback.     5. Q6e  (Appendix  B,  page  64)  –  In  order  to  help  reinforce  the  previous   statement  and  ensure  that  the  sample  population  had  answered   correctly,  this  statement  was  asked  in  order  to  confirm  that  the   sample  believed  that  online  reviews  are  trustworthy  and  honest.   This  statement  also  targeted  the  beneficial  aspects  that   organisations  may  have  for  making  biased  statements.  In  fact  43%   of  the  sample  population  strongly  agreed  that  online  reviews  are   honest  and  trustworthy  because  people  posting  them  do  not  have  a   financial  motive  behind  the  statements.  On  the  contrary,  only  10%     35  
  • 45. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4     of  the  sample  disagreed  with  this  statement.  This  therefore   reinforces  the  idea  that  people  do  tend  to  trust  others  when  it   comes  to  recommendations  and  also  Blythe  (2008)  and  other   theorist’s  idea  that  word  of  mouth  is  very  powerful.  It  also  helps   back  up  Silverman  (2001)  levels  theory  surrounding  word  of   mouth  where  he  stated  that  organisations  at  the  plus  level  2  stage   or  above  cannot  reply  on  conventional  marketing,  as  it  is  word  of   mouth  only  that  can  increase  their  profits.     6. Q6f  (Appendix  B,  page  65)  –  In  order  to  help  expand  on  the   previous  two  statements  and  find  out  whom  in  particular  the   sample  population  trust  more  this  statement  seemed  to  best  to  fit   to  do  so.  The  general  outcome  of  this  question  was  that  the   majority  of  the  sample  (48%)  stated  that  they  neither  agreed  nor   disagreed  that  they  are  more  likely  to  trust  a  family  member  than   an  unknown  user.  This  means  that  the  sample  population  are  likely   to  trust  both  their  family  or  friends  and  also  unknown  users  online.   A  small  selection  of  the  population  (10%)  of  the  population   strongly  agreed  that  they  trusted  recommendations  made  by   family  and  friends  over  unknown  users.  This  was  relatively  a  small   amount  compared  to  the  21%  of  the  sample  who  said  they  strongly   disagreed  with  this  statement.  From  this  statement  and  finding  it  is   evident  that  people  do  base  a  lot  of  trust  on  people  they  know  and   others  they  do  not  when  it  comes  to  getting  recommendations   about  products  they  want  to  purchase.      4.8. Word  of  Mouth  (Appendix  B,  page  66-­‐71)   This  question  was  placed  in  the  survey  in  order  to  get  an  understanding   about  the  respondent  has  knowledge  and  understanding  of  word  of   mouth.  Some  of  the  statements  were  also  designed  to  find  out  whether   the  respondent  took  part  in  word  of  mouth.    There  were  six  statements   that  were  asked  in  this  question  where  the  respondents  had  to  strongly   agree  or  strongly  disagree  with  a  statement.         36  
  • 46. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4     1. Q7a  (Appendix  B,  page  66)  –  This  statement  was  used  in  order  to   get  a  better  understanding  whether  or  not  the  respondent  had  any   knowledge  about  word  of  mouth  and  what  it  is.  Overall  36%  of  the   people  fro  the  sample  strongly  agreed  that  they  had  a  knowledge   about  the  word  of  mouth  concept  compared  to  the  1%  whom   strongly  disagreed.  This  meant  that  overall  people  from  this   sample  had  a  good  general  understanding  of  word  of  mouth  and   were  confident  in  their  knowledge.  Only  23%  neither  agree  nor   disagreed,  which  implied  that  they  somewhat  know  what  word  of   mouth  is  but  they  are  unsure  about  it.   2. Q7b  (Appendix  B,  page  67)  –  One  of  the  issues  that  were  raised  in   the  literature  review  section  was  the  way  word  of  mouth  is  spread.   It  became  evident  that  it  was  less  likely  for  a  person  to  share  their   positive  experiences  with  people.  In  order  to  see  if  this  was  still   viable  the  respondents  were  asked  whether  they  strongly  neither   agreed  nor  disagreed  with  sharing  their  positive  feedback  with   their  peers,  family  or  friends.    The  overall  findings  showed  that   62%  of  people  neither  agreed  nor  disagreed  with  this  statement.   This  can  also  be  linked  to  Silverman  (2001)  and  his  theory  with   the  various  levels  of  word  of  mouth,  where  people  in  level  1,  do  not   go  out  of  their  way  to  really  share  information  unless  they  are   asked.  Only  10%  of  the  sample  population  actually  said  that  they   strongly  agreed  with  this  statement  meaning  that  they  probably  fit   into  level  3  or  even  4  of  the  levels  highlight  in  Silvermans  (2001)   theory.  Others  however,  felt  strongly  about  disagreeing  with   statement  as  27%,  almost  three  time  more  people,  from  the   sample  said  that  they  do  not  bother  in  sharing  information.     3. Q7c  (Appendix  B,  page  68)  –  Expanding  on  the  previous  statement,   there  was  also  a  point  mentioned  in  the  literature  review  that  bad   reviews  are  more  likely  to  be  spread.  In  order  to  verify  this   statement,  the  respondents  were  asked  to  what  extend  do  they   strongly  agree  or  strongly  disagree  that  they  bad  feedback  about   bad  experiences.  It  was  found  that  48%  of  the  population  surveyed     37  
  • 47. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4     strongly  agreed  that  they  are  more  likely  to  talk  about  bad   experiences,  compared  to  the  10%  who  strongly  disagreed.  This   therefore  confirms  the  theories  surrounding  how  important   customer  satisfaction  is,  to  ensure  bad  word  of  mouth  is  kept  away   from  an  organisation.     4. Q7d  (Appendix  B,  page  69)  –  This  statement  was  asked  in  order  to   get  a  view  on  whether  the  sample  population  took  part  in  writing   out  good  reviews  themselves  about  product  or  services.  Similar  to   7b,  the  responses  to  this  statement  were  more  or  less  similar.  The   majority  of  respondents  (44%)  neither  agreed  of  disagreed  with   the  statement.  Only  20%  of  the  sample  strongly  agreed  to  post   positive  feedback  on  websites  as  an  anonymous  user.  The  reason   why  they  are  both  similar  was  because  relatively  the  same  amount   of  people  neither  agreed  nor  disagreed  on  sharing  positive   feedback  about  services  to  their  peers,  friends  and  family.     5. Q7e  (Appendix  B,  page  70)  –  In  order  to  find  out  if  the  respondents   took  part  in  writing  bad  reviews  as  anonymous  users,  this   statement  was  included  in  the  survey.  In  relation  to  7c,  the   similarity  between  both  statements  again  was  very  close.  In  fact   44%  of  people  strongly  agreed  with  sharing  bad  information  about   experiences  with  products  and  services,  in  contrast  to  the  9%  that   said  they  did  not.  This  again  goes  to  show  how  much  of  an   importance  customers  satisfaction  is  to  organisations,  because  if  a   customer  is  not  satisfied  then  bad  feedback  and  word  of  mouth   will  spread  like  wildfire.     6. Q7f  (Appendix  B,  page  71)  -­‐  The  final  statement  was  designed  to   help  find  out  how  accurate  the  sample  population  who  posted   comments  were.  There  seems  to  be  a  conflict  concerning  the   accuracy  of  online  reviews  and  feedback  with  regards  to  the   sample,  this  is  why  this  statement  was  necessary.  Two  thirds  of  the   sample  population  strongly  agreed  they  provide  accurate  and   honest  information  when  posting  online.  From  the  sample   population  only  6%  of  the  respondents  admitted  to  making  false     38  
  • 48. RESEARCH  FINDINGS     4     word  of  mouth  when  posting  anonymously  online.  This  statement   also  helps  put  into  prospective  the  amount  of  accurate  information   that  people  may  find  with  reviews  online.  It  is  fair  to  say  that  from   the  people  sampled  in  this  survey  that  most  reviews  and  feedback   we  find  online  is  likely  to  be  accurate.  This  finding  should  also  help   reassure  people  who  do  not  trust  reviews  and  feedback  online  by   providing  them  with  a  reason  to  believe  otherwise.      4.9. Recommendations  from  respondents     The  final  question  that  the  respondents  were  asked  was  to  do  with  what   they  thought  websites  such  as  TripAdvisor,  and  TripAdvisor  itself  need  to   change  or  implement  to  ensure  that  consumers  are  always  satisfied  with   their  service.  The  main  concern  amongst  the  majority  of  the  respondents   was  accuracy  and  how  true  comments  and  feedback  were  on  the   websites.  Therefore  one  of  the  main  points  highlighted  by  the  sample   population  was  a  method  to  analyse  the  accuracy  for  comments  posted   before  they  went  live  on  the  website  for  people  to  see.       Other  people  stated  TripAdvisor  and  similar  websites  needed  to  prohibit   anyone  from  posting  comments  on  the  websites,  unless  they  are  verified   members  and  have  the  right  to  do  so.  There  was  a  small  minority  of   people  who  left  this  section  of  the  survey  blank.               39  
  • 49.  5     Chapter        Recommendations  and  Conclusion    Chapter  5  Introduction  41;  Conclusion  41;  Recommendations  44;  Areas  for  Possible  Research  44  L o n d o n   S o u t h   B a n k   –   M a y   2 0 1 2    
  • 50. RECOMMENDATIONS  AND  CONCLUSION     5    5. Introduction     In  this  final  section  of  the  study  an  overall  conclusion  will  be  written,   hopefully  tying  in  both  findings  made  from  the  survey  and  also  information   found  from  the  literature  review.  This  section  will  not  only  help  in  bringing   the  study  together  but  also  help  give  an  overall  feel  of  everything  that  has   been  discovered  in  the  study  and  also  answer  the  objectives  that  were  set  out   in  chapter  1.      5.1. Conclusion   Overall  the  results  from  this  study  have  managed  to  fulfil  the  objectives   that  were  first  set  out  in  chapter  1  (Section  1.2.1.).  A  greater   understanding  surrounding  word  of  mouth  and  its  affects  on  consumer   behaviour  has  also  been  gained  from  this  study.    By  studying  consumers   attitudes  and  opinions,  this  study  has  helped  to  illustrate,  how  a  small   sample  of  people  are  influenced  by  word  of  mouth  when  it  comes  to   purchasing  not  only  their  holidays  but  also  products  and  services.       There  was  a  lot  of  information  that  was  obtained  with  regards  to  existing   theories  surrounding  the  topics  of  interest,  such  as  word  of  mouth,   consumer  behaviour,  customer  satisfaction  and  so  forth.       From  the  secondary  research  gathered  it  was  highlighted  that  word  of   mouth  is  one  of  the  most  powerful  marketing  tools  that  an  organisation   can  have  on  its  side.  In  addition  to  the  statements  made  by  Blythe  (2008),   Evans  et  al  (2006)  and  Silverman  (2001),  the  consumers  sampled  as  part   of  this  studies  primary  research  also  confirmed  this.  The  general  findings   from  the  consumers  sampled  were  that  they  were  less  likely  to  purchase  a   product  with  bad  reviews.  This  study  also  found  that  from  the  sample   population,  consumers  are  more  likely  to  believe  a  friend  or  colleagues   recommendation  for  a  product  or  service  a  product.  The  study  also  found   that  the  majority  of  the  people  sampled  are  likely  to  take  on  board   comments  from  anonymous  users  about  a  product  or  service.       41  
  • 51. RECOMMENDATIONS  AND  CONCLUSION     5       Secondary  research  also  found  that  word  of  mouth  has  various  levels  of   influence  on  consumer  that  were  highlighted  by  Silverman  (2001).    The   minus  levels  being  where  companies  have  got  mild  to  severe  bad  word  of   mouth  surrounding  their  organisation  and  the  plus  levels  is  the  contrary.   Primary  research  helped  put  this  theory  in  perspective,  as  many  people   agreed  that  they  are  likely  to  purchase  and  talk  about  a  product  with  good   reviews,  which  confirm  Silverman  (2001)  and  his  theory  surrounding  the   positive  levels  of  word  of  mouth.  Furthermore,  it  also  confirmed  that   people  are  more  likely  to  talk  badly  about  products  and  services  causing  a   scandal,  which  ties  in  with  the  minus  levels  of  his  theory.       Primary  research  also  helped  in  finding  out  what  the  sample  population’s   intentions  on  using  websites  such  a  TripAdvisor  were.  With  the  majority   of  people  stating  that  they  these  websites  simply  for  researching  and   finding  reviews  on  holidays  that  they  have  not  been  on  before.  Many   people  however  also  stated  that  they  did  not  use  these  websites  as  they   did  not  trust  them,  or  because  the  holidays  that  they  had  been  on  were   either  for  business  purpose  or  a  destination  that  they  have  previously   been  to.  Another  discovery  that  was  made  was  the  fact  tat  people  did  not   trust  travel  agents  for  advice  as  they  felt  they  were  biased  with   information  due  to  the  financial  benefit  of  selling.  Although  TripAdvisor   has  received  some  bad  press  in  recent  times  many  people  did  state  that   they  were  recommended  to  use  the  website  via  a  friend  or  colleagues.       It  became  apparent,  from  the  primary  research,  that  many  of  the   consumers  from  the  sample  also  took  part  in  writing  comments  and   feedback  themselves.    The  main  finding  here  however  was  that  the   respondents  were  more  likely  to  talk  about  bad  reviews  than  good   reviews.  Fellow  colleagues  or  consumers  can  link  this  to  level  plus  one   where  people  who  have  a  good  experience  are  only  likely  to  talk   positively  if  asked.    Whereas,  with  regards  to  the  bad  experience  that  can     42  
  • 52. RECOMMENDATIONS  AND  CONCLUSION     5     be  linked  to  levels  negative  two  and  even  three  with  people  just  spreading   bad  comments  about  a  product  or  service.       Theorist  also  highlighted  customer  satisfaction  as  a  main  point.  They   stated  that  a  customer  is  more  likely  to  keep  in  mind  bad  experiences  and   talk  about  it  then  they  are  to  do  the  same  for  good  experience.  Primary   research  from  the  sample  population  confirmed  this  as  respondents   stated  that  they  are  more  likely  to  post  bad  reviews  online  then  good   reviews.       It  is  evident  that  by  now  it  is  clear  that  the  main  finding  is  that  people  are   more  likely  to  talk  about  their  bad  experiences  more  freely  than  those   who  have  a  good  experience.    In  addition  to  this,  this  statement  can  be   applied  for  services,  products  and  organisations.  The  more  bad  word  of   mouth  each  of  those  elements  receives,  the  more  likely  they  are  to  spiral   down  on  the  minus  levels  ladder  of  word  of  mouth.  Whereas  if  these   elements  are  receiving  more  positive  word  of  mouth,  the  more  likely  it  is   that  consumers  are  more  willing  to  purchase  from  them  and  in  turn  help   them  reach  that  pinnacle  place  of  the  plus  levels  on  the  word  of  mouth   ladder.         Primary  research  also  helped  this  study  in  getting  some  general  ideas  and   opinions  from  the  sample  population  on  what  they  felts  websites  such  as   TripAdvisor  should  implement  to  make  their  services  better.  The  general   feedback  was  to  implement  some  sort  of  accuracy  measure  for  every   comment  that  was  getting  posted,  to  be  checked  and  verified  by  someone   before  it  goes  live  on  the  website.  However,  this  study  also  found  that  the   majority  of  people  from  the  sample  also  felt  that  nothing  could  be   recommended.  This  was  due  to  the  fear  of  negative  comments  being   disregarded  completely  and  then  comments  becoming  biased  to  selling   holidays  and  not  actually  showing  consumers  the  truth.           43  
  • 53. RECOMMENDATIONS  AND  CONCLUSION     5    5.2. Recommendations     The  main  purpose  of  this  study  was  to  come  up  with  some   recommendations  that  TripAdvisor  and  companies  alike  can  take  on   board  and  hopefully  expand  on  and  implement  into  their  services.    With   all  the  research  that  has  been  carried  for  this  study  hopefully  the   following  recommendations  will  be  suitable  for  websites  such  as   TripAdvisor  to  use.       1. There  was  much  concern  over  the  accuracy  of  reviews  and   feedback.  In  order  to  reduce  this  distress  TripAdvisor  and   companies  alike  need  to  introduce  some  form  of  security  measure   where  comments  are  checked  and  verified  by  people  that  work  for   the  organisation  to  ensure  that  the  comments  are  accurate  and   truthful.  However,  there  should  also  be  a  balance  for  this  to  ensure   that  the  organisation  does  not  make  comments  biased  to  sell  more.       2. It  was  also  evident  that  not  many  people  feel  the  need  to  spread   good  news  about  experiences.  In  order  to  help  promote  this   companies  such  as  TripAdvisor  should  put  in  place  some  sort  of   incentive  to  encourage  people  to  provide  positive  feedback  on   their  websites.  In  addition  to  this  they  must  also  ensure  that  that   these  comments  are  truthful  and  not  simply  there  because  the  user   is  going  to  benefit.      5.3. Areas  for  possible  research     As  this  was  a  small  study  there  are  plenty  of  possible  areas  that  can  be   research  further.       1. Conduct  that  same  research  or  similar  to  this  one  on  a  much  larger   scale.  This  will  help  in  expanding  on  findings  and  also  potentially   reach  more  recommendations  and  also  learn  more  about   consumer  behaviour  with  regard  to  word  of  mouth.         44  
  • 54. RECOMMENDATIONS  AND  CONCLUSION     5     2. The  media  can  influence  people’s  word  of  mouth.    The  media  tends   to  talk  mainly  about  negative  stories.  This  research  will  therefore   be  interesting  to  see  how  these  stories  affect  word  of  mouth  and   also  word  of  mouth.  This  research  will  also  help  expand  on  the   nine  levels  of  word  of  mouth  theory  by  Silverman  (2001).       3. This  research  was  mainly  targeted  towards  holidays;  therefore  an   expansion  on  this  would  be  to  potentially  look  at  other  markets   and  how  word  of  mouth  affects  consumer  behaviour  in  those   markets.  This  would  help  get  a  better  understanding  of  other   markets  and  possibly  reach  new  findings  and  conclusions.             45  
  • 55. Appendix  A  -­‐  Consumer  Attitude  to  Online  Reviews      This   questionnaire   has   been   designed   to   measure   consumer   attitudes   to   online  reviews,  and  in  particular  TripAdvisor  and  similar  websites.  It  would  be  greatly  appreciated   for   your   co-­‐operation   in   completing   this   questionnaire   as   honestly  as   you   can   and   to   the   best   of   you   ability.   Your   responses   will   remain   anonymous  and   will   only   be   used   for   the   purpose   of   this   study.   Thank   you   for   your   co-­‐operation.    1. Gender  (Please  select  one)           Male     Female    2. Age  group  (Please  select  one)       18  –  24     35  –  39       50  –  54         25  -­‐  29   40  –  44     55  +       30  –  34     45  –  49        3. Before  purchasing  a  holiday,  do  you  conduct  any  research  surrounding  the   product,  i.e.  look  at  reviews?  (Please  select  one  answer)         Yes  (Go  to  question  3a)     No  (Go  to  questions  3b)     3a. If  so  which  website  are  you  familiar  with  or  have  used  previously?   (Tick  the  answer  that  apply)         TripAdvisor   Travel  Republic       Expedia     ComparetheMarket.com       Thompson   Cheap  Flights       Opodo   Other:___________________________       Icelolly       46  
  • 56. 3b. If  not,  briefly  explain  why.     __________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________    4. Have  you  been  on  holiday  either  in  the  United  Kingdom  or  abroad  in  the  past   12  months?  (Please  select  one  option)       Yes     No  (Go  to  question  5)       4a. Did  you  do  any  research  about  the  holiday  before  purchasing?  (Please   select  one  option)         Yes       No  (Go  to  Question  5)       4b. How  satisfied  were  you  with  the  information  you  found  online?  (Please   select  which  best  represents  your  satisfaction)             4c. Did  the  information  play  a  role  in  the  decision  to  purchase  the  holiday?   (Please  select  one  option)         Yes     Partly         No     4d. Where  these  reviews  mostly  good  or  bad?  (Please  select  which  best   represents  your  opinion)         Mostly  Bad   Mostly  Good      5. Have  you  ever  used  TripAdvisor  as  a  way  to  conduct  research  about   holidays?  (Please  select  one  option)         Yes  (Go  to  Question  5a)     No  (Go  to  question  5b)     47  
  • 57. 5a. If  yes,  please  state  why  you  used  TripAdvisor?     __________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________     5b. If  no,  please  state  why  you  do  not  use  TripAdvisor.   __________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________    6. To  your  knowledge  or  experience,  please  indicate  how  strongly  you  agree  or   disagree  with  the  following  statements.  (Please  choose  which  best   represents  your  opinion)       a. I  am  more  likely  to  purchase  a  product  after  reading  positive   reviews  about  the  product         Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree     b. I  am  less  likely  to  purchase  a  product  after  reading  bad  reviews   about  the  product       Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree     c. I  trust  online  reviews  from  websites  such  as  TripAdvisor         Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree     d. I  trust  online  reviews  more  than  information  provided  by   organisations         Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree     e. I  believe  that  online  reviews  are  honest  and  trustworthy  because   people  posting  them  have  no  beneficial  motives       Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree       f. I  trust  family  and  friends  recommendations  about  products  more   than  recommendations  made  online  by  unknown  users         Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree         48  
  • 58. 7. To  your  knowledge  or  experience,  please  indicate  how  strongly  you  agree  or   disagree  with  the  following  statement.  (Please  choose  which  best  represents   you  opinion)       a. I  have  a  general  understanding  of  the  word  of  mouth  concept         Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree     b. I  inform  my  friends/family  of  good  experiences  regarding  products   or  services  face  to  face         Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree     c. I  inform  my  friends/family  of  bad  experiences  regarding  products   or  services  face  to  face       Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree       d. I  write  good  reviews  online  as  an  anonymous  user  about  products   and  services         Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree     e. I  write  bad  reviews  online  as  an  anonymous  user  about  products   and  services       Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree       f. I  am  always  honest  when  writing  reviews  online  as  an  anonymous   user         Strongly  Disagree   Strongly  Agree      8. What  suggestions  would  you  recommend  for  websites  such  as  TripAdvisor,   and  similar  websites,  need  to  consider  ensuring  the  reviews  on  their   websites  remain  accurate  and  trustworthy?     ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________       Thank  you  for  your  co-­‐operation     49  
  • 59. Appendix  B  –  Results,  Tables  and  Graphs      Q1  -­‐  Gender     Question)1)) Respondents)) Male)) 44" Female)) 86" Total:) 130" " 34%   Male     66%   Female     50  
  • 60. Q2  –  Age  Group    Question)2)) Respondents))18)–)24) 6"25)–)29)) 10"30)–)34)) 17"35)–)39)) 17"40)–)44)) 31"45)–)49)) 19"50)–)54)) 19"55)+)) 11" Total:)) 130"" 4%   18  –  24   8%   8%   25  –  29     15%   13%   30  –  34     15%   13%   35  –  39     40  –  44     24%   45  –  49     50  –  54     51   55  +    
  • 61. Q3  –  Before  purchasing  a  holiday,  do  you  conduct  any  research  surrounding  the  product,  i.e.  look  at  reviews?     Question)3) Respondents))Yes)) 116#No)) 14# Total:) 130## 11%   Yes   89%   No   52  
  • 62. Q3a  –  If  so  which  website  are  you  familiar  with   or  have  used  previously?   Question)3a) Respondents)) TripAdvisor)) 64# Expedia) 9# Thompson) 12# Opodo) 3# IceLolly) 8# Travel)Republic)) 8# ComparetheMarket.com) 2# Cheap)Flights) 6# Other) 4# Total:) 130# # 2%   3%   TripAdvisor     5%   7%   Expedia   7%   Thompson  3%   55%   Opodo   10%   IceLolly   8%   Travel  Republic     ComparetheMarket.com   Cheap  Flights   Other   53  
  • 63. Q4  –  Have  you  been  on  holiday  in  the  United  Kingdom  or  abroad  in  the  past  12  months?   Question)4) Respondents)) Yes)) 94# No) 36# Total:) 130## 28%   Yes   72%   No   54  
  • 64. Q4a  –  Did  you  do  any  research  about  the  holiday  before  purchasing?     Question)4a) Respondents)) Yes) 90# No) 4# Total:) 94## 4%   Yes   96%   No   55  
  • 65. Q4b  –  How  satisJied  were  you  with  the  information  you  found  online?   Question)4b) Respondents)) ! 1)–)Very)Dissatisfied)) 2! 2) 4! 3) 6! 4) 2! 5) 1! 6) 24! 7) 11! 8) 9! 9) 11! 10)–)Very)Satisfied)) 20! Total:) 90! 2%   2%   1  –  Very  DissaVsfied     5%   1%   22%   7%   2   3   12%   27%   4   10%   5   12%   6   7   8   56   9   10  –  Very  SaVsfied    
  • 66. Q4c  –  Did  the  information  play  a  role  in  the  decision  to  purchase  the  holiday?   Question)4c) Respondents))Yes) 51#No) 14#Partly) 25# Total:)) 90## 28%   Yes     57%   15%   No     Partly     57  
  • 67. Q4d  –  Where  these  reviews  mostly  good  or  bad?   Question)4d) Respondent))1)–)Mostly)Bad) 2"2) 3"3) 7"4) 1"5) 2"6) 23"7) 12"8) 11"9) 9"10)–)Mostly)Good) 20" Total:) 90"" 1  -­‐  Mostly  Bad     2   2%   1%   3   3%   8%   2%   22%   4   10%   26%   5   12%   6   14%   7   8   9   58   10  -­‐  Mostly  Good  
  • 68. Q5  –  Have  you  used  TripAdvisor  as  a  way  to  conduct  research  about  holidays?   Question)5) Respondents))Yes) 64#No) 66# Total:) 130## 49%   51%   Yes     No   59  
  • 69. Q6a  –  I  am  more  likely  to  purchase  a  product  after  reading  positive  reviews  about  the  product   Question)6a)) Respondents))1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 15#2) 22#3) 31#4) 23#5)–)Strongly)Agree) 39# Total:) 130## 1  -­‐  Strongly   11%   Disagree     2   30%   17%   3   18%   24%   4   5  -­‐  Strongly  agree     60  
  • 70. Q6b  –  I  am  less  likely  to  purchase  a  product  after  reading  bad  reviews  about  the  product     Question)6b) Respondent))1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 17#2) 25#3) 26#4) 27#5)–)Strongly)Agree) 36# Total:) 130## 1  -­‐  Strongly   Disagree     27%   13%   2   19%   3   21%   20%   4   5  -­‐  Strongly   Agree   61  
  • 71. Q6c  –  I  trust  online  reviews  from  websites  such  as  TripAdvisor       Question)6c) Respondent))1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 12#2) 14#3) 17#4) 24#5)–)Strongly)Agree) 62# Total:) 130## 1  -­‐  Strongly   Disagree   9%   2   11%   48%   13%   3   19%   4   5  -­‐  Strongly   Agree   62  
  • 72. Q6d  –  I  trust  online  reviews  more  than  information  provided  by  organisations   Question)6d) Respondent))1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 2"2) 2"3) 6"4) 34"5)–)Strongly)Agree) 86" Total:) 130"" 1  -­‐  Strongly  disagree   2   3   4   5  -­‐  Strongly  Agree   1%  2%   5%   26%   66%   63  
  • 73. Q6e  –  I  believe  that  online  reviews  are  honest  and  trustworthy  because  people  posting  them  have  no  beneJicial  motives   Question)6e) Respondent))1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 13#2) 14#3) 13#4) 34#5)–)Strongly)Agree) 56# Total:) 130## 1  -­‐  Strongly   Disagree     10%   2   43%   11%   10%   3   26%   4   5  -­‐  Strongly   Agree   64  
  • 74. Q6f  –  I  trust  family  and  friends  recommendations  about  products  more  than  recommendations  made  online  by  unknown  users     Question)7b) Respondent))1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 27!2) 10!3) 62!4) 18!5)–)Strongly)Agree) 13! Total:) 130! ! 1  -­‐  Strongly  Disagree   2   3   4   5  -­‐  Strongly  Agree   10%   21%   14%   7%   48%   65  
  • 75. Q7a  –  I  have  a  general  understanding  of  the  word  of  mouth  concept     Question)7a) Respondent)) 1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 2! 2) 26! 3) 23! 4) 32! 5)–)Strongly)Agree) 47! Total:) 130! ! 1  -­‐  Strongly   1%   Disagree   20%   2   36%   18%   3   25%   4   5  -­‐  Strongly   Agree   66  
  • 76. Q7b  –  I  inform  my  friends/family  of  good  experiences  regarding  products  or  services  face  to  face     Question)7b) Respondent)) 1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 27! 2) 10! 3) 62! 4) 18! 5)–)Strongly)Agree) 13! Total:) 130! ! 1  -­‐  Strongly   Disagree   10%   21%   2   14%   7%   3   48%   4   5  -­‐  Strongly   Agree   67  
  • 77. Q7c  –  I  inform  my  friends/family  of  bad  experiences  regarding  products  and  services  face  to  face     Question)7c) Respondent)) 1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 10! 2) 13! 3) 17! 4) 28! 5)–)Strongly)Agree) 62! Total:) 130! ! 1  -­‐  Strongly   Disagree   10%   8%   2   48%   13%   3   21%   4   5  -­‐  Strongly   Disagree     68  
  • 78. Q7d  –  I  write  good  reviews  online  as  an  anonymous  user  about  products  and  services     Question)7d) Respondent)) 1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 13! 2) 22! 3) 57! 4) 12! 5)–)Strongly)Agree) 26! Total:) 130! ! 1  -­‐  Strongly   Disagree   20%   10%   2   17%   9%   3   44%   4   5  -­‐  Strongly   Agree   69  
  • 79. Q7e  –  I  write  bad  reviews  online  as  an  anonymous  user  about  products  and  services     Question)7e) Respondent)) 1)–)Strongly)Disagree)) 12! 2) 26! 3) 13! 4) 22! 5)–)Strongly)Agree) 57! Total:) 130! ! 1  -­‐  Strongly   Disagree   9%   2   44%   20%   10%   3   17%   4   5  -­‐  Strongly   Agree   70  
  • 80. Q7f  –  I  am  always  honest  when  writing  reviews  online  as  an  anonymous  user     Question)7f) Respondents))1)–)Strongly)Disagree) 8"2) 9"3) 14"4) 13"5)–)Strongly)Agree) 86" Total:) 130"" 1  -­‐  Strongly   6%   Disagree   7%   2   11%   10%   3   66%   4   5  -­‐  Strongly   Agree   71  
  • 81. Appendix  C  –  Rubric  (Sampling  covering  letter)       Consumer  Attitude  to  Online  Reviews      Dear  respondent,      My  name  is  Rodrigue  Eid.  In  order  to  successfully  graduate  as  an  honours  student,  I  am  required  to  carry  out  a  dissertation  as  a  compulsory  element  for  my  degree.  I  am  also  hoping  that  findings  from  my  research  will  further  contribute  towards  areas  of  consumer  behaviour  and  word  of  mouth.        I  would  be  very  grateful  if  you  could  spare  a  few  minutes  to  complete  this  survey  in  order  to  help  me  with  this  study  and  my  findings.      If  you  require  any  more  information  or  any  more  details  please  do  not  hesitate  to  ask  me.      Kind  Regards,    Rodrigue  Eid         72  
  • 82. Appendix  D  –  Prize  Incentive      As  part  of  my  survey  three  respondents  were  chosen  at  random  to  win  one  of  three  £20  Love2Shop  vouchers  for  taking  part.  The  winners  of  the  vouchers  were  chosen  after  they  defaced  a  hologram  box  at  the  end  of  the  questionnaire  to  reveal  either  a  win  or  lose  sign.      The  terms  and  conditions  to  this  competition  were  as  follows:       • Respondents  must  complete  the  questionnaire  and  not  miss  out  any   answers     • Although  the  winner  will  be  revealed  on  the  day  the  survey  is  completed   (on  the  spot)  the  voucher  will  be  sent  out  by  post  after  the  2nd  May  2012     • It  is  the  responsibility  of  the  winner  to  claim  the  prize,  due  to  this  survey   being  anonymous  no  information  will  be  taken  from  the  respondent     • Any  claims  must  be  e-­‐mailed  to  eidr@lsbu.ac.uk,  alongside  a  postal   address  and  survey  identification  number  to  verify  the  claim.  This  can  be   obtained  on  the  day  of  when  the  survey  is  completed     • It  is  the  responsibility  of  the  winner  to  ensure  that  survey  identification   number  is  kept  safe,  any  lost  numbers  cannot  be  retraced     • It  is  the  sole  responsibility  of  the  winner  to  ensure  that  any  winning   survey  numbers  are  claimed  by  the  30th  May  2012,  any  claims  after  that   date  will  be  void     • Along  with  these  terms  and  condition,  the  winner  must  also  bear  in  mind   the  terms  and  conditions,  which  have  already  been  set  out  by  Love2Shop.   These  can  be  found  on  http://www.highstreetvouchers.com/gift-­‐ vouchers/terms-­‐conditions.jsp     • The  vouchers  cannot  be  exchanged  for  cash     • The  cash  value  of  these  vouchers  is  0.0001p      Thank  you,    Kind  Regards,    Rodrigue  Eid       73  
  • 83. Appendix  E  –  Pilot  Survey  Modifications    These  were  the  various  modifications  that  were  made  to  the  survey  following  the  feedback  provided  by  the  pilot  study  group.     • Add  age  group  18-­‐24     • Take  out  some  of  the  personal  questions  that  were  in  the  questionnaire   such  as  job  status  and  income  as  they  were  seen  as  irrelevant     • Amend  layout  of  the  questionnaire  to  make  it  more  user  friendly   • Include  instructions  on  how  to  answer  the  questionnaire  and  questions   • Check  for  some  spelling  and  grammatical  errors  made  in  the  survey     • Reduce  font  size  from  16  to  12      Some  of  the  positive  feedback  from  the  group  about  the  questionnaire  included:       • The  structure  was  well  thought  out     • They  really  like  the  agree  and  disagree  section  of  the  questionnaire  and   the  various  statements     • They  did  not  feel  that  the  questionnaire  was  long  to  fill  out  and  that  it  was   very  user  friendly     • They  thought  that  I  made  good  use  with  some  of  the  questions  that  were   asked       74  
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