We have all heard of word of mouth advertising. Apparently that is an oxymoron :) Technically advertising is defined as a paid service, word of mouth is free. Which automatically makes WoM very intrinsically driven and organic, therefore very interesting for us. Now, you wouldn’t really consider a word from a stranger as a word of mouth recommendation. This kind of recommendation comes from your close ones: family, friends, colleagues, people that you know, you see on regular bases and people that wouldn’t lie to you about the thing they are recommending.
Historicaly, word of mouth has been proven to be the most reliable source of information people actually trust. Way way behind, the second place is taken by expert reviews, user reviews and other sources.
So, let’s say that your friend Mark highly recommends a movie. Your wish to see that movie is determined by your knowledge of Mark’s preference for movies. If his taste is similar to yours, your wish to see the movie will be higher, and vice versa. Obviously, there is a huge pool of preexisting knowledge that influence your decision. Beside, in this scenario, what’s at stake is not only higher “return on investment” – you saw a great movie for 12$ rather than a good movie for $12. Even more, the value is in the social “profit”. Friendships are born on common experiences… and now, you have just shared one more experience with your friend. Maybe you have enjoyed watching the movie together or you are just having a passionate conversation around it’s filmmaker. Your friendship is deepened with this shared experience.
(In the adolescence years, preference for type of movies or music are the actual things on which friendships are created or even dissolved! Powerful stuff.)
None of this is present in current movie apps/services. OK, there are user reviews and even some expert reviews. There are also stars ratings. Average, aggregate star ratings from anonymous viewers. Pretty useless. I like Netflix, but one thing that throws me off every time is the 5 star rating there. Great movies and shitty movies have 2.9 rating +- 0.3. How helpful…. There are some user review, but I have to read the reviews carefully, and between the lines, to figure out writer’s age, gender, cultural and educational bias, film taste etc. I can’t say I am lucky enough to spare an hour on reading reviews before I see a movie on a hardly deserved evening after kids are put to sleep.
I would rather rely on a source I can trust.