Pre-release consumer buzz
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“Buzz” during the period leading up to commercial release is commonly cited as a critical success factor for new products. But what exactly is buzz? Based on an extensive literature review and findings from a theories-in-use study (consumer depth interviews and focus groups), the authors argue that pre-release consumer buzz (PRCB) is not just a catchword or a synonym for “word of mouth” but is a distinct construct for which a precise, shared conceptual understanding is notably absent. The authors define PRCB as the aggregation of observable expressions of anticipation by consumers for a forthcoming new product; they conceptualize the construct as being manifested in three distinct types of behaviors (communication, search, and participation in experiential activities) along two dimensions (amount and pervasiveness). PRCB is unique because prior to, versus after, a product’s release, (1) differing information is available, (2) differing mental processes occur, and (3) consumers’ behaviors have differing effects on other consumers, affecting diffusion differently. A quantitative study using secondary data for 254 new products illustrates the performance of the theory-based conceptualization.
KeywordsBuzz Theories-in-use Word of mouth New product success Partial least squares Secondary data Communication Search Movies Video games
The authors thank Bernd Skiera for his contributions to this project and Peter Bloch, Chris Blocker, Markus Giesler, Marsha Richins, Marko Sarstedt, Srihari Sridhar, Caroline Wiertz, Chris White, and Eric Yorkston for constructive criticism on earlier versions of this manuscript. The first author gratefully acknowledges financial support from the TCU Neeley School of Business Research Grant fund.
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