What Makes a Helpful Review? A Study of Customer Reviews on Amazon.com

MIS Quarterly, 34(1), March, pp.185-200, 2010

17 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2012

See all articles by Susan M. Mudambi

Susan M. Mudambi

Fox School of Business, Temple University; Fox School of Business, Temple University

David Schuff

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

Customer reviews are increasingly available online for a wide range of products and services. They supplement other information provided by electronic storefronts such as product descriptions, reviews from experts, and personalized advice generated by automated recommendation systems. While researchers have demonstrated the benefits of the presence of customer reviews to an online retailer, a largely uninvestigated issue is what makes customer reviews helpful to a consumer in the process of making a purchase decision. Drawing on the paradigm of search and experience goods from information economics, we develop and test a model of customer review helpfulness. An analysis of 1,587 reviews from Amazon.com across six products indicated that review extremity, review depth, and product type affect the perceived helpfulness of the review. Product type moderates the effect of review extremity on the helpfulness of the review. For experience goods, reviews with extreme ratings are less helpful than reviews with moderate ratings. For both product types, review depth has a positive effect on the helpfulness of the review, but the product type moderates the effect of review depth on the helpfulness of the review. Review depth has a greater positive effect on the helpfulness of the review for search goods than for experience goods. We discuss the implications of our findings for both theory and practice.

Keywords: electronic commerce, product reviews, search and experience goods, consumer behavior, information economics, diagnosticity

Suggested Citation

Mudambi, Susan M. and Schuff, David, What Makes a Helpful Review? A Study of Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (2010). MIS Quarterly, 34(1), March, pp.185-200, 2010 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2175066

Susan M. Mudambi (Contact Author)

Fox School of Business, Temple University ( email )

1801 Liacouras Walk
Alter 524
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-3561 (Phone)

Fox School of Business, Temple University ( email )

1801 Liacouras Walk
524 Alter Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

David Schuff

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems

1810 N. 13th Street
Floor 2
Philadelphia, PA 19128
United States

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