Employee-Based Brand Equity and Word-of-Mouth Product Referrals.

Kristy Grayson, Dixie State University
Mee-Shew Cheung, Xavier University

Kristy Grayson, DBA

Dr. Kristy Grayson is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah. She holds a Doctor of Business Administration in Marketing from Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska. Her research interests include employee-based brand equity, consumer adoption of smart home technology and marketing ethics in the use of big data.

Mee-Shew Cheung, Ph.D.

Dr. Mee-Shew Cheung is Professor of Marketing and International Business at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio. She holds a Ph.D. in Marketing and International Business from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and teaches Global Marketing and international business related courses at the undergraduate, MBA, and executive levels. Dr. Cheung's research interests include global supply chain management, interorganizational learning theories and marketing strategies in global subsistence marketplaces. Her work has been published in Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Operations Management, MIT-Sloan Management Review, and other outlets such as Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, Journal of World Business, International Journal of Management and Decision Making.


While the benefits of employee-based brand equity (EBBE) drive value to an organization, employees are often an over-looked asset in the overall marketing mix. Word of mouth (WOM) communications is one of the oldest and most trustworthy sources of advertising, yet little is known about the factors that influence employees to share WOM product referrals with their social network. Through a Grounded Theory approach, data suggests that employees who exhibit higher levels of EBBE behavior share product referrals within their social circle. Also, employees explore their personal and social identity while evaluating a referral decision. Further, they consider relationship and firm factors. As EBBE has not been studied in the context of physical-goods, this research is conducted in the context of firms that manufacture consumer goods. The study provides a conceptual model that includes factors that influence employee product referral behavior and several propositions that will be tested in future research.