Bad Word of Mouth

Yesterday while relaxing at the beach a young couple and their children sat down next to us.

After settling in, they decided to go for a swim in the Gulf.

Soon after a couple who were walking along the beach approached the father and began pointing toward the water. As the couple walked away, the man told to his young children to get out of the water.

What could this couple have said in less than three minutes that caused a family to change their beach plans for the day?

Red Tide.

Yet, if Red Tide was so dangerous why were there other parents and children in the water? Why had our hotel’s managment allowed us to enter the water? Because Red Tide isn’t dangerous to humans unless a person eats seafood infected by it. Apparently these questions were lost on the father.

Granted, Red Tide isn’t the ideal but it isn’t prohibitive.
He simply took the couple’s advice as gospel and scuttled his beach plans for the day based on the unsolicited advice of total strangers.

How often is bad word of mouth spread by unqualifed sources?

What can the business do to combat this form of misinformation?



One Response to “Bad Word of Mouth”

  1. Reynold Says:

    I think the only counter is to actively generate positive word of mouth. Although some firms are attempting to do this lately, I don’t know if there is a way to artificially generate it. I think it happens when a small group of customers feel passionately about the firm’s offering. I don’t know if there is a good framework for thinking about how to identify and activate this segment of customers.


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