How Does Popularity Information Affect Choices? A Field Experiment
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management
January 10, 2011
Management Science, Vol. 57, No. 5, pp. 828-842, May 2011
Popularity information is usually thought to reinforce existing sales trends by encouraging customers to flock to mainstream products with broad appeal. We suggest a countervailing market force: popularity information may benefit niche products with narrow appeal disproportionately, because the same level of popularity implies higher quality for narrow-appeal products than for broad-appeal products. We examine this hypothesis empirically using field experiment data from a web site that lists wedding service vendors. Our findings are consistent with this hypothesis: narrow-appeal vendors receive more visits than equally popular broad-appeal vendors after the introduction of popularity information.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Popularity Information, Observational Learning, Field Experiment, Internet Marketing
JEL Classification: C93, D83, M31
Date posted: July 26, 2007 ; Last revised: May 26, 2011
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