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Word on the street: apparel-related critical incidents leading to eWOM and channel behaviour among millennial and Gen Z consumers

Amy Dorie (Department of Family, Interiors, Nutrition and Apparel, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA)
David Loranger (Department of Marketing, John F Welch College of Business and Technology, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 1 March 2024

Issue publication date: 11 March 2024




The purpose of this study is to investigate characteristics of apparel-related critical incidents that motivate both Generation Z and Y consumers to share electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) via specific online channels.


The current research used an exploratory mixed-methods approach.


Qualitative findings of critical incidents revealed that the main situations that led to the spread of eWOM involved new purchases (49%), product quality (21%), pricing and promotions (19%), complaints (9%) and brand content (48%). Participants were motivated to spread information about the critical incidents by a desire to connect with friends and family (83%), help others (37%), influence others (48%) and express brand loyalty (32%). Quantitative results indicated significant relationships between critical incidents, motivations and eWOM channel choice.

Research limitations/implications

This study has theoretical implications for apparel researchers attempting to gain insight into critical incidents that motivate consumers to engage in eWOM on specific channels in a positive or negative manner.

Practical implications

These findings are important for marketers as it appears that brand content does an efficient job at driving engagement on SM; marketers need to increase efforts to engage with consumers via feedback on websites, as this is an opportunity to counteract negative experiences and retain consumers’ loyalty.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the current research is the first to extend theories of communication and motivation to connect critical incidents with situational intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for spreading eWOM via online channels for Millennial and Generation Z consumers.



Dorie, A. and Loranger, D. (2024), "Word on the street: apparel-related critical incidents leading to eWOM and channel behaviour among millennial and Gen Z consumers", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 41 No. 2, pp. 148-161.



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