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

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, 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, 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. 1984]. The findings advance the understanding of the selling power of CGPRs and extend the scope of persuasive research by recognizing the persuasive function of CGPRs on E-commerce websites. Most importantly, the results from this study provide directions for E-commerce marketers to increase consumers' purchase intention with online review recommendation systems.

2. Literature Review

The worldwide Internet has provided an interactive arena for word-of-mouth communication [Granitz and Ward 1996; Berthon et al. 2008]. Using the Internet, consumers can easily publish their own opinions, thoughts, feelings, and viewpoints on products and services. These consumer-generated contents are available to any customer around the world connected through the Internet and are demonstrating a vital role in the field of marketing. Online retailers, such as Amazon and Ebay encourage their consumers to share their testimonials (personal experiences of products) on their websites. Thus, such consumer-generated product reviews (CGPRs) are gaining more and more attention among business practitioners, information system managers, and researchers. …

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