People Rely Less on Consumer Reviews for Experiential than Material Purchases
93 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2014 Last revised: 7 Aug 2018
Date Written: August 3, 2018
An increasingly prevalent form of social influence occurs online where consumers read reviews written by other consumers. Do people rely on consumer reviews differently when making experiential purchases (events to live through) than when making material purchases (objects to keep)? An analysis of more than 6 million reviews on Amazon.com and four laboratory experiments reveal that people are less likely to rely on consumer reviews for experiential purchases than for material purchases. This effect is driven by beliefs that reviews are less reflective of the purchase’s objective quality for experiences than for material goods. These findings not only inform how different types of purchases are influenced by word-of-mouth, but they illuminate the psychological processes underlying shoppers’ reliance on consumer reviews. Furthermore, as one of the first investigations into how people choose among various experiential and material purchase options, these findings suggest that people might be more open to being told what to have than what to do.
Keywords: experiential purchases, material purchases, consumer reviews, objective quality
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