Identifying Social Influence: A Comment on Opinion Leadership and Social Contagion in New Product Diffusion
Marketing Science, Forthcoming
15 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2010 Last revised: 31 Aug 2012
Date Written: June 7, 2010
Professors Iyengar, Van den Bulte and Valente (2010) (hereafter IVV) make deep nuanced contributions to our understanding of how opinion leadership and social contagion affect the adoption and diffusion of new products. Their work moves us forward not only by answering several fundamental questions at the heart of diffusion research, but also by highlighting important open questions that should form the basis of future inquiry. In this comment, I extend insights gleaned from their empirical analyses to suggest how they may lead to an even more comprehensive understanding of peer influence and social contagion. Their work and the work that lies ahead are not only critical to marketing science and practice, but also more broadly to a host of disciplines as diverse as epidemiology, innovation management, organizational performance, development economics and public health. In what follows I sketch five broad questions suggested by IVV’s findings that could, if appropriately addressed, dramatically improve how we conceptualize and manage social contagions in a variety of domains.
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