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How Does Popularity Information Affect Choices? A Field Experiment

Management Science, Vol. 57, No. 5, pp. 828-842, May 2011

33 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2007 Last revised: 26 May 2011

Catherine E. Tucker

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS)

Juanjuan Zhang

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Date Written: January 10, 2011

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Popularity Information, Observational Learning, Field Experiment, Internet Marketing

JEL Classification: C93, D83, M31

Suggested Citation

Tucker, Catherine E. and Zhang, Juanjuan, How Does Popularity Information Affect Choices? A Field Experiment (January 10, 2011). Management Science, Vol. 57, No. 5, pp. 828-842, May 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1002763

Catherine E. Tucker

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS) ( email )

100 Main St
E62-536
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cetucker.scripts.mit.edu

Juanjuan Zhang (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jjzhang.scripts.mit.edu

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