Stimulating Online Reviews by Combining Financial Incentives and Social Norms

Forthcoming, Management Science

44 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2016 Last revised: 2 Nov 2016

See all articles by Gordon Burtch

Gordon Burtch

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management

Yili Hong

Arizona State University (ASU) - W.P. Carey School of Business

Ravi Bapna

University of Minnesota - Minneapolis

Vladas Griskevicius

University of Minnesota - Minneapolis

Date Written: August 26, 2016

Abstract

In hopes of motivating consumers to provide larger volumes of useful reviews, many retailers offer financial incentives. Here, we explore an alternative approach, social norms, wherein we inform people about the volume of reviews authored by peers. We test the effectiveness of using financial incentives, social norms, and a combination of both strategies. In two randomized experiments, one in the field conducted in partnership with a large online clothing retailer based in China, and a second on Amazon Mechanical Turk, we compare the effectiveness of each strategy at stimulating online reviews in larger numbers and of greater length. We find that financial incentives are more effective at inducing larger volumes of reviews, but the reviews that result are not particularly lengthy, whereas social norms have a greater effect on the length of reviews. Importantly, we show that the combination of financial incentives and social norms yields the greatest overall benefit, motivating reviews in greater numbers and of greater length. We further assess the treatment induced self-selection and sentiment bias by triangulating the experimental results with findings from an observational study.

Keywords: online reviews, randomized experiment, social norms, financial incentives, intrinsic motivation, user generated content

JEL Classification: C93, H41, M13, M31, M48, M52

Suggested Citation

Burtch, Gordon and Hong, Yili and Bapna, Ravi and Griskevicius, Vladas, Stimulating Online Reviews by Combining Financial Incentives and Social Norms (August 26, 2016). Forthcoming, Management Science. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2848398 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2848398

Gordon Burtch (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management ( email )

19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Yili Hong

Arizona State University (ASU) - W.P. Carey School of Business ( email )

Tempe, AZ 85287-3706
United States

HOME PAGE: http://yilihong.github.io/

Ravi Bapna

University of Minnesota - Minneapolis ( email )

321 19th Ave S
Information and Decision Sciences
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Vladas Griskevicius

University of Minnesota - Minneapolis ( email )

110 Wulling Hall, 86 Pleasant St, S.E.
308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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