Word-Of-Mouth in B2B Contexts


The Contemporary Face of Word-Of-Mouth in B2B Contexts: New Technologies, Practices and Challenge, Special issue of Industrial Marketing Management; Deadline now 1 Mar 2021


Author: Ben Marder


Call for Papers

The Contemporary Face of Word-Of-Mouth in B2B Contexts: New Technologies, Practices and Challenges

Deadline for submission: March 1st, 2021

Industrial Marketing Management announces the call for papers for a special issue on the contemporary face of word-of-mouth in B2B contexts: New technologies, practices and challenges.

Overview and Purpose of the special issue

Word-of-mouth (WOM) represents “informal communications directed at others about the ownership, usage, or characteristics of particular goods and services or their sellers”  (Westbrook, 1987, p. 261). The importance of WOM, both positive and negative, and how it shapes and drives customer decision-making behavior, has long captured the attention of marketing scholars (Brown & Reingen, 1987; Lindgreen et al., 2013; Richins, 1983). And, for a good reason. An estimated six trillion dollars in spending per year is directly attributable to WOM, with estimates showing recommendations to be five times more effective than paid forms of advertisement (Invesp, 2019). Whilst a corpus of research has developed with the goal of explaining why people share information about consumer products in this way (Berger & Schwartz, 2011), insight still remains elusive, with some referring to WOM as the world’s most effective, yet least understood marketing strategy (Berger, 2014). This is particularly true of industrial markets where, despite the fact that marketing spend in B2B settings are equal to those in B2C (Iankova et al., 2019; Jha et al., 2019; Swani et al., 2017), very little is known about how WOM shapes decision-making/behavior (Dobele & Lindgreen, 2011).

To complicate matters further, technological advancements have introduced new possibilities for generating WOM (both positive and negative). For instance, recommendations can now flow seamlessly through professional networking and review sites such as LinkedIn and Epinions, which come in the form of written endorsements, needs-based tagging (NBD) and hashtags. B2B customers can leave supplier reviews via online marketplaces such as Alibaba (Mora Cortez et al., 2019) whilst influencers and/or opinion leaders are able to instantaneously take to Instagram to advocate for specific B2B products and services. Taken altogether, it is hardly surprising that industrial marketers are quickly awaking to the potentiality for capitalizing on the same viral processes most often associated with B2C contexts (see, for example, campaigns by Volvo trucks, Adobe and Slack). However, until now very little research has been conducted that provides any systematic insight into the breadth and scope of opportunities that technology advances offer industrial marketers, the factors that drive (i.e. antecedents) and inhibit online recommending (or denigration), or that clarify the inherent and unintended challenges that need to be reconciled as a consequence.

The objective of this Special Issue is to provide a remedy for this shortcoming, providing a state-of-the-art reflection of WOM in the technological era but from the perspective of industrial marketing, and we invite submissions that develop and extend our current understanding of this. Papers considered for the Special Issue may focus on topics including, but not limited to:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages, plus the differences between traditional (in-person) and digital vehicles for WOM?
  • What are the key reasons for someone to engage in positive / negative WOM in a B2B context (e.g. impression management, emotional regulation, reciprocity, social bonding, persuasion)?
  • How should marketers best respond to incidents of positive and negative WOM about their products and services (e.g. opportunities for capitalizing on endorsements, strategies for mitigating denigration)?
  • What is the comparative effectiveness of different mechanisms of WOM (e.g. clicks, comments/written, video, shares, tagging, hashtags, endorsement badges)?
  • What are the conditions and strategies for enhancing successful viral processes in a B2B setting (e.g. how, when and through which platforms can B2B firms go viral?)?
  • How effective is influencer marketing in the B2B context?
  • What are the key challenges for industrial marketers when leveraging WOM in the modern business arena (e.g. fake reviews, recommendation abundance, Artificial Intelligence reply automation, review / WOM cynicism)?

These topics offer a guide to research that would be a good fit for the Special Issue. Other interpretations, research questions and approaches are welcome. The Special Issue editors are willing to address questions about topic fit in the first instance. Diversity of methodological approaches is welcome, as are conceptual manuscripts.

Preparation and submission of paper and review process

Papers submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or presently be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Submissions should be about 6,000-8,000 words in length. Copies should be uploaded on Industrial Marketing Management’s homepage through the EVISE system. You need to upload your paper using the dropdown box for the special issue on the Contemporary face of word-of-mouth in B2B contexts: New technologies, practices and challenges. For guidelines, visit


Papers not complying with the notes for contributors (cf. homepage) or poorly written will be desk rejected. Suitable papers will be subjected to a double-blind review; hence, authors must not identify themselves in the body of their paper. (Please do not submit a Word file with “track changes” active or a PDF file.)

Please address all questions to the guest editor(s):

Ben Marder, PhD
Senior Lecturer in Marketing, University of Edinburgh Business School
Email: Ben.Marder@ed.ac.uk

Rob Angell, PhD
Associate Professor in Marketing Research, Southampton Business School
Email: R.Angell@soton.ac.uk

Antonia Erz, PhD
Associate Professor in Marketing, Copenhagen Business School
Email: ae.marktg@cbs.dk

Tugra Akarsu, PhD
Lecturer in Marketing, Southampton Business School
Email: T.N.Akarsu@soton.ac.uk


Berger, J. (2014). Word of mouth and interpersonal communication: A review and directions for future research. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(4), 586-607.

Berger, J., & Schwartz, E. M. (2011). What drives immediate and ongoing word of mouth? Journal of Marketing Research, 48(5), 869-880.

Brown, J. J., & Reingen, P. H. (1987). Social ties and word-of-mouth referral behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 14(3), 350-362.

Dobele, A., & Lindgreen, A. (2011). Exploring the nature of value in the word-of-mouth referral equation for health care. Journal of Marketing Management, 27(3-4), 269-290.

Iankova, S., Davies, I., Archer-Brown, C., Marder, B., & Yau, A. (2019). A comparison of social media marketing between B2B, B2C and mixed business models. Industrial Marketing Management, 81, 169-179.

Invesp (2019). The importance of word of mouth marketing – Statistics and trends, Invespcro.com, Retrieved September 27, 2019 from https://www.invespcro.com/blog/word-of-mouth-marketing/

Jha, S., Balaji, M. S., Ranjan, K. R., & Sharma, A. (2019). Effect of service-related resources on employee and customer outcomes in trade shows. Industrial Marketing Management, 76, 48-59.

Lindgreen, A., Dobele, A., & Vanhamme, J. (2013). Word-of-mouth and viral marketing referrals: what do we know? And what should we know? European Journal of Marketing, 47, 1028-1033.

Mora Cortez, R., Gilliland, D. I., & Johnston, W. J. (2019). Revisiting the theory of business-to-business advertising. Industrial Marketing Management.

Richins, M. L. (1983). Negative word-of-mouth by dissatisfied consumers: A pilot study. Journal of Marketing, 47(1), 68-78.

Swani, K., Milne, G. R., Brown, B. P., Assaf, A. G., & Donthu, N. (2017). What messages to post? Evaluating the popularity of social media communications in business versus consumer markets. Industrial Marketing Management, 62, 77-87.

Westbrook, R. A. (1987). Product/consumption-based affective responses and postpurchase processes. Journal of Marketing Research, 24(3), 258-270.