Stimulating Referral Behavior May Backfire: the Effect of Referral Failure on Susceptibility to Persuasion

Bart Claus, K.U. Leuven, Belgium
Kelly Geyskens, University of Maastricht, the Netherlands
Kobe Millet, K.U. Leuven, Belgium; Free University Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Siegfried Dewitte, K.U. Leuven, Belgium
The effects of WOM on the receiver of the information conveyed have extensively been researched. It remains open, however, whether referral outcome has an effect on the sender. Four studies reveal that consumers’ openness to advice is lower when their own advice was not followed. Differences in the activation of the self as a result of the ego threat that referral failure comprises, moderate these results. We also establish that referral failure is what drives these effects, not referral success. Our results suggest that stimulating WOM behavior may backfire when recommendations are ignored by their intended receivers.
[ to cite ]:
Bart Claus, Kelly Geyskens, Kobe Millet, and Siegfried Dewitte (2010) ,"Stimulating Referral Behavior May Backfire: the Effect of Referral Failure on Susceptibility to Persuasion", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 513-514 .