Social Influence Effects in Online Product Ratings

Sridhar, Shrihari; Srinivasan, Raji
September 2012
Journal of Marketing;Sep2012, Vol. 76 Issue 5, p70
Academic Journal
Websites prominently display consumers' product ratings, which influence consumers' buying decisions and willingness to pay. Few insights exist regarding whether a consumer's online product rating is prone to social influence from others' online ratings. Examining this issue, the authors hypothesize that other consumers' online ratings moderate the effects of positive and regular negative features of product experience, product failure, and product recovery (to address product failure) on the reviewer's online product rating. The results from a model using 7499 consumers' online ratings of 114 hotels support the hypotheses. Other consumers' online ratings weaken the effects of positive and regular negative features of product experience but can either exacerbate or overturn the negative effect of product failure, depending on the quality of product recovery. For marketing theory, the findings indicate that consumers who influence others are themselves influenced by other consumers and that this influence is contingent on their product experience. For managerial practice, the authors offer a method to estimate the effects of product experience characteristics on online product ratings and show that social influence effects make high online product ratings a double-edged sword, exacerbating the negative effect of product failure and strengthening the benefit of product recovery.


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