In a recent HBR blog, McKinsey consultants Magni and Atsmon point out that in China, to paraphrase the famous maxim on politics, all word of mouth is local. They further suggest that word of mouth is a more powerful force for Chinese consumers than for their equivalent in the US or UK.
As Net Promoter Score is essentially a word of mouth measure, this intrigued us. Would NPS be more powerful in China than the west?
We know that there are cross cultural differences in NPS – we (Satmetrix) publish benchmarking if that’s important to you – but this question goes further, suggesting a higher correlation between NPS and growth in the middle kingdom.
I’d suggest the jury is still out on this one. As nations modernize, consumers tend to build higher levels of trust in brands which has the effect of reducing their reliance on word of mouth. If I show up in a new city, I don’t ask locals if the Starbucks is any good in Dallas, I just assume that the brand carries their promise. It is only when brand proliferation and choice saturates the marketplace that people refocus their efforts on recommendation.
Or at least that’s the theory. Maybe a society being thrust rapidly into 21st century consumerism with it’s local, social infrastructure still intact will never unlearn the practice of reliance of word of mouth over word of advertising.