The Impact of Customer Community Participation on Customer Behaviors: An Empirical Investigation

Algesheimer, René; Borle, Sharad; Dholakia, Utpal M.; Singh, Siddharth S.
July 2010
Marketing Science;Jul/Aug2010, Vol. 29 Issue 4, p756
Academic Journal
Many firms increasingly offer community venues to their customers to facilitate social interactions amongst them. Prior studies have shown that community participants have high engagement and loyalty toward the firm and provide useful feedback and referrals. However, it is not clear whether community participants are the firm's "fans" to begin with and self-select themselves into the community, or whether community participation leads to increased relational customer behaviors. In the current research, we employ data from a field experiment to help answer this question. The data come from a year-long study conducted by eBay Germany, and they reveal that a simple e-mail invitation significantly increased customer participation in the firm's community. Results also show that community participation had mixed effects on customers' likelihoods of participating in buying and selling behaviors. Community participation did not translate into increased behaviors, as would be commonly expected. Although there is no impact of participation on the number of bids placed or the revenue earned, there is a negative impact of participation on the number of listings and the amount spent. Together, these results suggest that the community participants become more selective and efficient sellers, and they also become more conservative in their spending on the items for which they bid. The results also show that customer community marketing programs may be targeted to a broader set of the firm's customers than just the fans.


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