Word of mouth is a massive driver of consumer decision-making, according to the “Water Cooler Report,” a new study released by WorkPlace Impact, a Mentor, Ohio-based leader in workplace marketing. Prepared by the Keller Fay Group, a market research company specializing in word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing and social influence based in New Brunswick, N.J., the report is said to be the first ever to quantify and bring attention to conversations about brands that happen at work, around the proverbial water cooler.
Among all consumers ages 18-60, 12% of their conversations about brands occur “at work,” the study says. That share of brand discussions doubles to 25% when looking at full-time employees and at conversations that happen Monday through Friday, which translates into nearly a billion instances in which people are exposed to brands at work through word of mouth.
“Talking about products in the workplace is one of the most influential ways to get consumers to make the decision to buy,” says Brad Fay, co-founder of the Keller Fay Group. “Word of mouth determines 13% of all consumer purchasing, or $6 trillion, and our research shows that employee conversations about brands are more impactful and positive than others.”
Keller Fay Group’s TalkTrack, a continuous study of WOM in all channels, found that people who talk about brands at work are more influential and prolific talkers than other people. Nearly half of these “workplace talkers” are professional (28%) or managerial (19%) employees, which means they have a lot of responsibility and the ability to influence others. They are more likely to be classified as Conversation Catalysts, Keller Fay Group’s consumer influencer segment. Their advice and recommendations have four times as much impact as advice from average consumers, according to the study.
Not only is workplace WOM impressive in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality as well. Sixty-nine percent of all WOM among workplace talkers is categorized as “mostly positive,” while only 8% considered “mostly negative.” In addition, 40% of conversations include a strong recommendation to buy the product discussed.
WOM among workplace talkers is highly likely to be passed along to others (45%) and highly likely to lead to purchase (48%). And, most of these conversations happen offline (87%) vs. 12% online (instant/text message, email or social media).
“Word-of-mouth conversations about brands, especially offline and face to face, tend to result in positive brand impressions that not only get passed on, but [also] lead to purchase," says Shelly Sekki, president of WorkPlace Impact. “This study, which is [said to be] the most comprehensive study ever conducted on this topic, shows more than ever how the American workplace has become the most lucrative marketing channel for advertisers looking to connect with consumers.”
The Water Cooler Report was conducted by the Keller Fay Group in 2015 from a national sample of 27,000 U.S. employees ages 18-60 across a variety of industries.
To download the complete study, please visit www.workplaceimpact.com/watercooler.