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Rethinking peer-to-peer communication: how different mediums and product types influence consumers’ language

Behnam Forouhandeh (Faculty of Business and Law (Marketing), University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)
Rodney J. Clarke (Faculty of Business and Law (Management), University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)
Nina Louise Reynolds (Faculty of Business and Law (Marketing), University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 19 July 2022

Issue publication date: 4 October 2022

224

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the utility of systemic functional linguistics (SFL) as an underlying model to examine the similarities/differences between spoken and written peer-to-peer (P2P) communication.

Design/methodology/approach

An embedded mixed methods experimental design with linguistically standardized experimental stimuli was used to expose the basic linguistic differences between P2P communications that can be attributed to communication medium (spoken/written) and product type (hedonic/utilitarian).

Findings

The findings show, empirically, that consumer’s spoken language is not linguistically equivalent to that of written language. This confirms that the capability of language to convey semantic meaning in spoken communication differs from written communication. This study extends the characteristics that differentiate hedonic from utilitarian products to include lexical density (i.e. hedonic) vs lexical sparsity (i.e. utilitarian).

Research limitations/implications

The findings of this study are not wholly relevant to other forms of consumer communication (e.g. viral marketing). This research used a few SFL resources.

Practical implications

This research shows that marketers should ideally apply a semantic approach to the analysis of communications, given that communication meaning can vary across channels. Marketers may also want to focus on specific feedback channels (e.g. review site vs telephone) depending on the depth of product’s details that need to be captured. This study also offers metrics that advertisers could use to classify media and to characterize consumer segments.

Originality/value

This research shows the relevance of SFL for understanding P2P communications and has potential applications to other marketing communications.

Keywords

Citation

Forouhandeh, B., Clarke, R.J. and Reynolds, N.L. (2022), "Rethinking peer-to-peer communication: how different mediums and product types influence consumers’ language", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 56 No. 8, pp. 2281-2308. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-11-2020-0793

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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