Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

The Selling Power of Consumer-Generated Product Reviews: The Matching Effect between Consumers' Cognitive Needs and Persuasive Message Types

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

The Selling Power of Consumer-Generated Product Reviews: The Matching Effect between Consumers' Cognitive Needs and Persuasive Message Types

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This research investigated the potential matching effects between consumers' personality traits (Need for Cognition) and type of characteristics of consumer-generated product reviews (Transformational or Informational). In particular, the study inquired whether such a matching effect would produce the following proposed effects: a) induce positive evaluations of consumer-generated reviews, b) generate positive attitude toward the reviewed products, and c) produce positive purchase intention of the reviewed product. The results of this present research showed that individuals with complex cognitive needs (high level of need for cognition) demonstrated a more positive attitude toward the reviewed product as well as a greater purchase intention when they read informational consumer generated product reviews than when they read transformational consumer-generated product reviews. On the contrary, individuals with lower cognitive needs (low level of need for cognition) showed more favorite attitudes towards transformational reviews. In addition, the hedonic/utilitarian nature of a product (product category), brand-familiarity, and gender moderated the relationship. Implications and directions for further investigation are also provided.

Keywords: Consumer-generated product review (CGPR); Matching effects; Need for cognition; Message types

1. Introduction

Consumer generated product reviews (CGPRs) have been proved a crucial source of information for consumers, especially in the context of electronic commerce [Berger 2012]. One stream of previous studies has shown that CGPRs significantly affect consumers' purchase behaviors [Chintagunta et al. 2010; Duan et al. 2008]. Another stream of literature examines the components of online review system. For example, researchers [Park 2006] find a positive effect between the quality of CGPRs and product sales and increasing purchase intentions with the number of CGPRs. Zhang and Tran [2010] investigate the relationship between level of "Helpful" ranking of CGPRs and consumers' purchase intention. Goes, Lin, and Au Yeung [2014] find that there exists a trade-off between the quality and quantity of review writers in online review recommendation system.

Being one popular E-commerce web site, Amazon.com asks consumers to write reviews and rate products and offers an interactive communication platform for buyers and sellers as well as other interested parties, such as product reviewers. And the rating is a combination of the contribution from both sellers (product description) and buyers (consumer generated product reviews, CGPRs). Therefore, while conducting extensive or intensive search on the Amazon.com, consumers would evaluate the options based on both the product description provided by the sellers that appeal to their needs, and product reviews generated by previous consumers of the products. And thus, CGPRs start to function as advertising messages that sell products. However, little research bothers to examine the nature of CGPRs and proves it.

In addition, it is widely acknowledged that CGPRs represent reviewers' feelings, experiences, and opinions on any specific product [Zhang and Tran 2010] and therefore are attitudes of previous consumers and e-Word of Mouth. Persuasive research has investigated matching effects among three factors, dimensions of attitude [Fazio et al 1989], types of persuasive messages [Puto and Wells 1984], and product types [Rossiter 1987], that occur while potential consumers read CGPRs before making purchase decision. Therefore, another gap in CGPRs literature is that studies are needed in understanding whether there also exist matching effects when CGPRs affect consumers' purchase intention and how consumers' perception system interacts with CGPRs

The purpose of this research, therefore, is to investigate the persuasiveness of CGPRs by 1) testifying the nature of CGPRs from the perspective of focal message strategies, informational/transformational [Puto and Wells 1984]; and 2) examining the potential matching effects between the types of the persuasive messages (transformational or informational) and individuals' information processing styles, cognition/affection [Petty et al. …

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