Dr. Mai Kikumori, associate professor of the College of Business Administration, Ritsumeikan University, received Best Thesis Award at this year’s International Marketing Trends Conference - Paris, France, January 2018. The prize was awarded for her research report "Impacts of Electronic Word of Mouth on Consumer Product/Brand Evaluation."
The award is aimed at up and coming, young researchers in the field of marketing.
Candidates are firstly put forward by countries from around the world as representatives of their country, before being asked, as part of a competitive process, to give an oral and written presentation of their final PhD thesis or dissertation. The winner is chosen as the most outstanding candidate based upon the quality of this presentation.
It really is a great honor to receive this award – especially since it comes from such an internationally renowned conference attended by marketing scholars from around the world. This dissertation marks the culmination of research activity I began as a graduate student.
The main issue I deal with in the dissertation regards the effect of word-of-mouth messages passed over the Internet (e-WOM messages). Studies on e-WOM messages up until now have consistently supported the argument that positive e-WOM messages have positive effects on consumer behavior, and that, similarly, negative e-WOM messages have negative effects.
However, I argue that, in reaching these conclusions, researchers have simply assumed that consumers can automatically distinguish between positive and negative e-WOM messages, and have failed to take into consideration the reality of the situation, which is to say that consumers are in fact presented with a complex mix of positive and negative e-WOM messages at the same time.
To overcome this limitation, I came up with the idea of introducing the notion of ‘ratio’ into my research in the form of assessing the content of a webpage by means of the ratio of good to bad e-WOM messages. As an empirical method this then enabled me to build up a picture of how positive-to-negative e-WOM message ratios influenced consumer behavior; whilst at the same time it also allowed me to identify conditions in which, paradoxically, negative e-WOM messages can have positive effects on consumer product evaluation.
That my work was singled out not only for the originality of its hypothesis, but also for its empirical soundness by means of extensive and assiduous testing and retesting, is a great honor. As the recognition for many years of hard work, I am absolutely delighted. It has given me fresh impetus and inspiration to pursue my studies further. I am, of course, indebted to all those who have helped me over the years in the course of my research and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.
The International Marketing Trends Conference:
Dr. Kikumori's Research Profile: