„An EWOM Journey: From the Early Days of Digitalization to Today – and Tomorrow“: Watch Professor Hennig-Thurau’s keynote from the inaugural eWOM Research Virtual Symposium

When the Internet emerged in the 1990s, so-called „consumer opinion platforms“ like Dooyoo, Ciao and Epinions.com became increasingly popular. These websites enabled ordinary consumers to publicly share their experiences with products and services. During that time, Professor Thorsten Hennig-Thurau was enthusiastic about the new possibilities of digitalization, the progressive democratization of information and the new phenomenon he and his fellow co-researchers coined electronic word of mouth, or simply “EWOM”. As early as in the year 2000, he predicted that EWOM would soon play a greater role in consumers’ decision making and that it might become even more important than established information sources such as Consumer Reports or Stiftung Warentest.

In his keynote at the eWOM Research Virtual Symposium on May 7th 2021, Professor Hennig-Thurau gave new insights about the past, the present and the future of electronic word of mouth. While the role of „classic“ consumer opinion platforms has declined over time, new technologies and formats to spread EWOM have emerged and carried the phenomenon to unprecedented levels of relevance. Today, consumers do post on various social media platforms with a great variety of content design options, in addition retail websites serve as major EWOM source. In the time to come, Professor Hennig-Thurau argues that it will be necessary for brands to build strategies and develop dashboards to adequately respond to EWOM, which in the time of social media firestorms, can make or break a company. He also claims that platforms such as Amazon need to recognize the true value of EWOM and to combat fake reviews more rigorously. Consumers, on the other hand, will need more help from A.I. when it comes to filter out the relevant, and authentic, comments from the sea of multifarious, and often misleading, EWOM information now available. Additional arenas are about to emerge, with virtual reality metaverses becoming fresh sources of EWOM.

Professor Hennig-Thurau stressed that his work on EWOM plays a central role for his scholarly career. To date, his seminal paper "Electronic Word-of-Mouth via Consumer-Opinon Platforms: What Motivates Consumers to Articulate Themselves on the Internet?" (with Kevin Gwinner, Gianfranco Walsh and Dwayne Gremler), published 2004 in the Journal of Interactive Marketing, has been cited more than 7,000 times.

You can watch Professor Hennig-Thurau's keynote here: