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Analysis of Online Word-of-Mouth in Online Forums Regarding

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									        Analysis of Online Word-of-Mouth in Online Forums Regarding Notebook Computers
                    Pei-Wen Wang, Yi-Jing Su, Meng-Long Shih, Shao-Ding Lu

Analysis of Online Word-of-Mouth in Online Forums Regarding Notebook
                             Computers
             Pei-Wen Wang*1 , Yi-Jing Su*2 , Meng-Long Shih*3 , Shao-Ding Luo*2
                        *1
                           Transworld Institute of Technology, Taiwan,
                             *2
                                National Taitung University, Taiwan,
                   *3 Corresponding author
                                           National Taitung University, Taiwan,
                                           mlshih@nttu.edu.tw
                                    doi: 10.4156/jcit.vol5.issue5.13

                                              Abstract
   This study aims to analyze online word-of-mouth regarding notebook computers, based on two
large notebook computer forums in Taiwan. Online reviews are extracted between January 1, 2008
and April 1, 2010, with a total of 318 effective samples collected. Empirical study found that the
market of the notebook computer can be divided into four groups, namely, game and entertainment,
fashion and quality, visual effects, and after-sales services. The top two brands of notebook computers,
Asus and Acer, do not belong to the highly-competitive group.

                      Keywords: Online word-of-mouth; notebook computer

1. Introduction

   With advancements in technology and increasing consumer demands for quality, notebook
computers are constantly upgraded in terms of practicability and functionality in order to attract
more consumers. Notebook computers are characterized by the feature of portability, and due to
the popularity of wireless networks, the market for notebook computers has become
increasingly important. According to the statistics of Suppli (2008), the worldwide shipment
volume of notebook computers exceeded that of desktop computers for the first time. In
addition, according to Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC), the shipment volume
of notebook computers in greater China reached 115 million units in 2009, for an annual growth
rate of 2.2%. These figure indicate that the notebook computer has a significant share of the
consumer market.
   According to a report by the Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC), in 2009, the
number of Internet users in Taiwan reached 15.82 million, which is approximately 70% of the
total population, and of this group, teenagers in the age group of 15-19 are the majority. It is
clear that with the prevalence of the Internet, growing numbers of the public are engaging in
online activities to communicate, interact, and contact with other users. Moreover, the Internet
and diversified information exchange platforms have expedited information flows, allowing
users to collect relevant information through the Internet, including knowledge, experiences,
and comments of other users, and through information exchange platforms, such as message
boards, forums, blogs, chat rooms, and BBS.
   Word-of-mouth marketing is regarded a traditional, yet effective marketing strategy, which is
informal, non-commercial, and contains both positive and negative messages. Word-of-mouth is
defined as the process of sharing personal experiences, ideas, and opinions regarding products,
which is shared between at least two consumers, and without commercial intention (Blackwell,
Miniard & Engel, 2006). Favorable work-of-mouth can help attract more customers and enhance
customers’ confidence, thus gain more consumers.
   Based on the above, this study aims to discuss the online word-of-mouth regarding notebook
computers in Taiwan. Online forums have become a popular platform for customers to discuss
word-of-mouth regarding notebook computers. Therefore, learning consumers’ preferable
comments on notebook computers, and the relationship between online word-of-mouth
regarding various notebook computers and product features, can help to provide reference for
manufacturers and distributors in future research and development.




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                          Journal of Convergence Information Technology
                                  Volume 5, Number 5, July 2010


2. Literature Review

2.1 Consumer-Generated Media and Online Forums

   Consumer-Generated Media (CGM) covers comments generated by consumers, such as
opinions and personal experiences posted on the Internet, and publically discussed issues on
products and brands. CGM also refers to online word-of-mouth, including blogs, weblogs,
message boards, BBS, forums, online comments and opinions, and online feedback and
complaint websites.
   Online forums are platforms on the Internet that facilitate online discussion for various users.
Fang (2005) studied online forums in Mainland China, and found that over 90% of the
information is expressed in a grammatically acceptable manner, with appropriate presentation of
opinions. Regarding discussions on opinions among Internet users, most tend to make their
ideas known to others. McLoughlin and Mynard (2009) conducted a study on a women’s
university in Arab on how to use online forums as a tool to help students to think at a higher
level. They found that online forums can improve higher levels of thinking if the notion is
correct.
   In sum, CGM is a highly reliable and quantifiable type of digital information, as most
information in online forums completely presents the users’ ideas, and facilitates higher levels
of thinking.

2.2 Word-of-mouth and online word-of-mouth

   Steffes and Burgee (2009) studied the influence of word-of-mouth on consumers’ decision-
making behaviors, specifically, on the newly emerging online communication. They surveyed
482 American college students, and found that online word-of-mouth is more influential than
traditional word-of-mouth. Crutzen (2009) studied the efficiency of online word-of-mouth by
surveying teenagers between 18 and 24 years old. The results showed that online word-of-
mouth has different outcomes when interfered by some factors. For instance, when teenagers are
attracted to remain longer on a website, they tend to offer more positive word-of-mouth. Agliari
and Burioni (2010) studied the imbalance of word-of-mouth in the US market in an attempt to
discuss how company policy can effectively utilize word-of-mouth. Their analysis of the
features of word-of-mouth found that word-of-mouth has the market space and scope
(geographical division) of heterogeneity. Moreover, there are both good-will word-of-mouth
and bad-will word-of-mouth.
   In sum, online word-of-mouth is defined as informal, non-commercial communication
(including positive and negative messages) regarding products, services, or brands among
Internet users. It has better influence on groups of users that search for word-of-mouth on the
Internet than traditional word-of-mouth among friends and relatives. According to the market
space and scope (geographical division) of word-of-mouth, online word-of-mouth has the same
feature. The common information platforms in Taiwan for word-of-mouth usually include
emails, online forums, BBS, websites, blogs, etc. This study chooses two major forums as the
targets, namely, the National Taiwan University (NTU) BBS and the Mobile 01 Online Forum,
regarding notebook computers in Taiwan.

3. Research Method

3.1 Web mining technology

  This study aims to discuss word-of-mouth regarding notebook computers on BBS. Web
mining is a part of traditional data mining, and uses data mining techniques to extract and




                                                 119
       Analysis of Online Word-of-Mouth in Online Forums Regarding Notebook Computers
                   Pei-Wen Wang, Yi-Jing Su, Meng-Long Shih, Shao-Ding Lu

analyze online information in order to uncover hidden knowledge in posts, and further
effectively analyzes the information (Ting, Chen, 2005).
3.2 Data processing

   In order to collect relevant data of online word-of-mouth, the researcher first entered the
keywords - notebook computer word-of-mouth, and used Crawler to select articles on the
notebook computer forums of NTU BBS and Mobile 01. The articles regarding usage
experience and opinions after purchasing a notebook computer are selected, and the articles are
tabulated. The data are sorted by categories of website, article title, publication date, product
name, and article content, and then saved to a database for processing. The Data collection and
analysis process as figure 1.




                           Figure 1. Data collection and analysis process

3.3 Research scope

   This study chose notebook computers sold in Taiwan as its target, and analyzes users’ word-
of-mouth from 2008, in order to discuss the favorable/unfavorable online word-of-mouth and
product features. Based on the collected data, this study generalizes the items of concern by
consumers, and divides them into seven aspects for reference to notebook computer
manufacturers. The items are listed as follows.

                                      Table 1. Items analyzed
         Aspects                                     Sub-items
      Appearance      Shape, texture, lightness
      Screen          Picture, size, frame
      Efficiency      Power, speed, failure, durability
      Services        Repair, consumable parts, warranty, price
      Configuration   Display card, Bluetooth, sound, CD-ROM, memory, USB, keyboard, hard drive
      Function        Movie, music, Internet, word processing
      Operation       Quietness, smoothness, noise, heat dissipation


4. Research Results

   The top 7 notebook computer manufacturers, in terms of sales volume from 2008, are Asus,
Acer, HP, Levono, Sony, Toshiba, and Dell. According to the analysis of word-of-mouth data,
there are 101 models of notebook computers. The article publication dates range from January
1, 2008 to April 1, 2010, and consist of about 1500 articles. After eliminating invalid samples,
there are 318 valid samples.




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                                        Journal of Convergence Information Technology
                                                Volume 5, Number 5, July 2010

4.1 Results of data analysis of notebook computer

   Table 2 shows the results of data analysis of online comments regarding notebook computers.
As seen, Asus users value games the most, accounting for 12.8%, followed by shape (12.2%).
Acer users value repair services the most, accounting for 18.7%, followed by power (8.7%). HP
users value power consumption the most, accounting for 11.2, followed by keyboard (9.5%).
Levono users value warranty services the most, accounting for 12.6%, followed by keyboard
(10.9%). Sony users value the shape the most, accounting for 9.0%, followed by power
consumption (8.5%). Toshiba users value the texture the most, accounting for 12.4%, followed
by power consumption (9.5%). Dell users value the texture and surface the most, accounting for
10.3%, followed by repair services and memory (8.2%).
   This study selects and processes the aspect keywords, which are generalized according to the
webpage information, and uses Excel and XLSTAT for analysis. A spatial diagram is used to
present the relative position of the categorized data, in order to display the corresponding
relationships between the characteristic items and the notebook computer manufacturers. The
results of item analysis are as follows:

                      Table 2. Results of Data Analysis of Web Information on notebook computers
                                   Asus          Acer            HP             Levono          Sony        Toshiba          Dell
 Aspect




                 Sub-items
                                                                                                                                        Quality
                                Times



                                              Times



                                                            Times



                                                                                Times



                                                                                              Times



                                                                                                            Times



                                                                                                                          Times
                                        %             %             %                   %             %             %             %


                    Shape       40 11.2        6      1.6   10      2.4         11      4.5   18      9     15      5.3    4      2.1    0.051
 Appearance




                   Texture      30      9.1   18      4.9   17      4.1         11      4.5   16      8     35 12.4 20 10.3              0.072

                  Lightness      3      0.9    6      1.6   12      2.9         12      4.9    8      4     10      3.5    9      4.6    0.03

                   Picture       0      0      7      1.9   23      5.6          8      3.2    6      3     19      6.7   20 10.3        0.041
 Screen




                    Size         2      0.6    1      0.3    0        0          0      0      2      1      8      2.8    0      0      0.006
                   Frame         2      0.6    9      2.4    0        0          2      0.8    0      0      0      0      0      0      0.006
                   Power        25      7.6   32      8.7   46 11.2 10                  4     17      8.5   27      9.5    8      4.1    0.081
 Efficiency




                    Speed        4      1.2    0      0      6      1.5         11      4.5    7      3.5    3      1.1    0      0      0.015
                   Failure       4      1.2   17      4.6    3      0.7          2      0.8    4      2      3      1.1    0      0      0.016
                  Durability     0      0      0      0      1      0.2          6      2.4    1      0.5    0      0      0      0      0.004
                   Repair       11      3.4   69 18.7 23            5.6          7      2.8   10      5      5      1.8   16      8.2    0.069
                 Consumable
 Services




                                 1      0.3    9      2.4    3      0.7          0      0      0      0      1      0.4    0      0      0.007
                    parts
                  Warranty      15      4.6   27      7.3   24      5.9         31 12.6        6      3      9      3.2    3      1.5    0.057
                    Price       10      3      0      0      1      0.2          4      1.6    4      2      1      0.4    9      4.6    0.014
                 Display card   21      6.4   25      6.8   29      7.1          8      3.2   14      7     12      4.2   10      5.2    0.059
                  Blue tooth     0      0      5      1.4    0        0          2      0.8    0      0      4      1.4    0      0      0.005
 Configuration




                   Sound         4      1.2   12      3.3   15      3.7         12      4.9   13      6.5   12      4.2   12      6.2    0.039
                  CD-ROM         3      0.9    5      1.4   18      4.4         11      4.5    5      2.5    6      2.1    5      2.6    0.026
                  Memory        10      3      4      1.1   33        8          3      1.2    5      2.5    1      0.4   16      8.2    0.035
                    USB          9      2.7    8      2.2    2      0.5          1      0.4    3      1.5    0      0      0      0      0.011
                  Keyboard      14      4.3   21      5.7   39      9.5         27 10.9 10            5     11      3.9   12      6.2    0.066




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               Analysis of Online Word-of-Mouth in Online Forums Regarding Notebook Computers
                           Pei-Wen Wang, Yi-Jing Su, Meng-Long Shih, Shao-Ding Lu

               Hard Drive     11     3.4    15     4.1    16     3.9          12      4.9      6     3     1      0.4    11     5.7    0.035


                               Asus           Acer            HP             Levono             Sony      Toshiba          Dell
 Aspect




              Sub-items
                             Times                                                                                                    Quality



                                           Times



                                                         Times



                                                                             Times



                                                                                            Times



                                                                                                          Times



                                                                                                                        Times
                                     %             %             %                     %            %             %             %


                 Movie        2      0.6    0      0      1      0.2          0        0       0    0      0      0      4      2.1    0.003
                 Music        0       0     0      0      4        1          2       0.8      1    0.5    4      1.4    0      0      0.005
 Function




                Internet      7      2.1    1      0.3   20      4.9          5        2       6    3     23      8.1    5      2.6    0.033
                 Game        42      12.8 18       4.9   16      3.9         23       9.3      8    4     25      8.8    3      1.5    0.067
                 Word
                              7      2.1    2      0.5    5      1.2          6       2.4      6    3      5      1.8    7      3.6    0.019
               processing
               Quietness      2      0.6    0      0      0        0          6       2.4      2    1      1      0.4    2      1      0.006
 Operation




              Smoothness     28      8.5   26      7     11      2.7          4       1.6      8    4      7      2.5    0      0      0.041
                 Noise        0       0     6      1.6    0        0          0        0       3    1.5    5      1.8    3      1.5    0.008
                  Heat
                             21      6.4   20      5.4   32      7.8         10        4       10   5     30 10.6 15            7.7    0.068
               dissipation
             Quality         0.16          0.18          0.20                0.12           0.98          0.14          0.10


4.2 Recapitulation sheet and coordinate diagram of corresponding analysis

   Table 3 shows the results of online word-of-mouth analysis. As seen, characteristic value is
0.413, Chi-square is 837.756, and P value is <0.01, indicating the level of significance.

          Table 3. Results of online word-of-mouth analysis regarding notebook computers
    Dimension     Eigenvalue        Inertia(%) Cumulative(%) Chi-square              p-value
              F1                  0.134                32.467                         32.467
              F2                  0.095                22.911                         55.379
              F3                  0.076                18.349                         73.728
              F4                  0.057                13.872                         87.600
              F5                  0.037                9.030                          96.630
              F6                  0.014                3.370                         100.000
             Total                0.413                                                                   837.756                 0.0001

   A 2-dimensional positioning map is used to illustrate the relationships between the different
characteristic values of aspects from among various brands of notebook computers. The
corresponding relationships of the different strengths are represented by proximity and distance.
Table 2 shows the distribution of the various brands of notebook computers. The attributes and
features of Toshiba, Sony, and Levono are similar, and belong to the high-priced and delicate
texture type, with the major features of quietness, texture, heat dissipation, and word
processing. The analysis items of online word-of-mouth are similar. As shown in the 2-
dimension positioning map, the distance between the two is highly concentrated, showing that
they are in competition with each other. Regarding HP and Dell, competitors positioned in a
highly-competitive block. The keywords for features include sound, movie, picture, memory,
and lightness. The feature words, namely, keyboard, heat dissipation, and display card are
between the blocks of high competition and sub-high competition, indicating that the items lack
individuality in the consumers’ mind. The closer the two brands on the positioning map, the
more likely one can be replaced by the other. Asus and Acer are located in two separate blocks,




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                                            Journal of Convergence Information Technology
                                                    Volume 5, Number 5, July 2010

showing individuality according to the consumers’ online comments. Therefore, one is less
likely to be replaced by another.
   According to the results shown in Figure 2, the market of notebook computers in Taiwan can
be divided into four groups, which are game and entertainment, quality and texture, visual
effects, and after-sales services, indicating that consumers have demand orientation when
selecting a notebook computer. Regarding the group of game and entertainment, appearance and
shape, smooth operation, and game functions are more frequently commented on by consumers
during word-of-mouth. Regarding the group of quality and texture, texture, heat dissipation, and
consumable parts are the focus of online word-of-mouth of consumers. Regarding the visual
effects group, display card, picture, sound, memory, and lightness are the focus of word-of-
mouth of consumers. Regarding features in online word-of-mouth, it consists of two groups,
namely, a high-intensity group and a low-intensity group. The high-intensity features include
warranty, power, display card, texture, quietness, price, speed, word processing, heat
dissipation, durability, sound, keyboard, hard drive, Internet access, CD ROM, picture, memory,
movie, and music. The low-intensity features include shape, size, game, smoothness, USB,
Bluetooth, failure, frame, consumable parts, and repair. Therefore, Toshiba, Sony, Levono, HP,
and Dell are competitive within the high-intensity block, while Asus and Acer are competitive
in the low-intensity field.
                                                                   Symmetric plot
                                                             (axes F1 and F2: 55.38 %)
                   1

                                                                      Shape
                                                               Size
                                                                               Asus         USB
         0.5                  Game and entertainment                  Game
                                                                                         Smoothness
                                                                QuietnessTexture
                                                           Price Toshiba
                                                                                         Fashion and quality
                            Highly-competitive           Speed
                                  group                    processing     Sony
                                                       Durability
                                                                                   Blue
                                                                        LevonoWarrantytooth Failure
                   0
    F2 (22.91 %)




                                                     Internet Heat dissipation Power                   Frame
                                                       Music Lightness Keyboard Noise         Acer
                                                                         SoundHard Drive     Repair Consumable parts
                                                           CD-ROM         Hp
                                                          Movie       Dell
     -0.5
                                                           Picture Memory
                                                                                                  After-sales services
                               Visual effects


             -1
                       -2         -1.5          -1           -0.5              0      0.5             1          1.5     2

                                                                       F1 (32.47 %)

                            Figure 2. Positioning map of online word-of-mouth regarding notebook computers


5. Conclusions and Suggestions

   This study discussed online word-of-mouth regarding notebook computers. The empirical
analysis found that online word-of-mouth can clearly present consumers’ requirements and
opinions on notebook computers. The market of notebook computers can be divided into four
groups, which are game and entertainment, fashion and texture, visual effect, and after-sales
services. The positioning map shows that, the specialty of Asus is games; Acer specializes in
after-sale services; Toshiba, Sony, and Levono specialize in quality; while HP and Dell




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        Analysis of Online Word-of-Mouth in Online Forums Regarding Notebook Computers
                    Pei-Wen Wang, Yi-Jing Su, Meng-Long Shih, Shao-Ding Lu

specialize in audio/video effects. Secondly, consumers’ online word-of-mouth is inconsistent
with the attributes of notebook computers. No brand can cover all items in consumers’
comments, and each brand has its unique features. Third, the best-selling notebook computer is
not in the block of high-competition. Products with similar attributes cannot attract more
consumers. Thus, only by cultivating consumers’ unique demands and focusing on particular
consumer groups can attract more consumers.
   Facing an era of rapid development of information technology, how to strengthen consumers’
loyalty in competitive markets is the top priority for enterprises to expand business. Therefore,
brands in a low-intensity block should maintain their uniqueness and expand the properties of
their specialized blocks, which reduce the possibility of being replaced. As for brands in high-
intensity blocks, new blocks in which they have potential to specialize should be enhanced to
develop attributes with potential. In this manner, the demands of consumers of specific groups
can be better satisfied. In addition, companies should attach greater importance to online word-
of-mouth surveys, which can enable consumers to feel respected, and further enhance their
confidence in buying the products.

6. References
[1] Agliari, E., & Burioni, R., “Word-of-mouth and dynamical inhomogeneous markets: an efficiency
    measure and optimal sampling policies for the pre-launch stage”, Journal of Management
    Mathematics, Vol. 2, no1, pp.67-83, 2010.
[2] Blackwell, R. D., Miniard, P. W., & Engel, J. F., Consumer Behavior, Cincinnati, Ohio: South
    Western College Publisher, 2006.
[3] Crutzen, R, “Effectiveness of online word of mouth on exposure to an Internet-delivered
    intervention”, Psychology & Health, no24, pp.651-661, 2009.
[4] Fang, H.T., A Study on Online Forums of Mainland China-Taking Guantian Chashe-the Voice of
    Super Girls for Example Master’s thesis, Graduate Institute of Journalism, Chinese Culture
    University, unpublished, Taipei, 2005.
[5] McLoughlin, D., & Mynard, J., “An analysis of higher order thinking in online discussions”,
    Innovations in Education & Teaching International, no46, pp.147-160, 2009.
[6] Steffes, E. M., & Burgee, L. E., “Social ties and online word of mouth”, Internet Research, no19,
    pp.42-59, 2009.
[7] Taiwan Network Information Center. Statistics on Population with Internet Access in Taiwan in
    2009 ,[http://www.twnic.net.tw/download/200307/200307index.shtml]
[8] Ting, Y.H., Chen, M.Y. Data Mining, Cang Hai Books., Taichung, 2005.




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