Word-of-Mouth Escalation Levels: Theory and Results of an Empirical Study Considering Different Situations and Target Groups

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



A huge amount of marketing literature focuses on communication among customers about products, services, or providers, which is referred to as Word-of-mouth (WoM). However, only a small part of the literature discusses in which situations and between which individuals WoM occurs. This article derives theoretically that the tie strength and the contextual reference between individuals can be regarded as important predictors for the occurrence of WoM: More precisely, we suggest that a higher tie strength and a contextual reference has an association with the likelihood that WoM occurs. We apply several scenarios with different levels of disconfirmation of expectations – which are regarded as escalations levels. Afterwards, a quantitative empirical study proves that individuals are more likely to tell others about certain events if these people have a higher tie strength. Also, we provide evidence that the contextual reference has an impact. The article underlines the importance of WoM for businesses and contributes to the existing literature.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23–35
Number of pages13
JournalHermes : Journal of Language and Communication in Business
Issue number64
Publication statusPublished - 2024

External IDs

Mendeley 342753cd-9f2a-39fb-b880-d24eaa1bf72c
Scopus 85191343843



  • C2C, contextual reference, business communication, interaction, tie strength, binding, word-of-mouth