The Effect of Individual Online Reviews on Purchase Likelihood
45 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2018 Last revised: 4 Sep 2019
Date Written: May 8, 2018
Online product reviews constitute a powerful source of information for consumers. Past research has studied the effect of aggregate measures of reviews (such as, mean product rating and number of reviews) on consumer behaviour. In this study, we investigate how individual reviews displayed on a product webpage affect consumers’ purchase likelihood. Identifying this effect is challenging because retailers are free to select which reviews to display on the product page and in what order, making the display of reviews in particular positions potentially endogenous. We address this challenge by utilizing an empirical context where the retailer displays reviews by recency and exploit the variation in review positions generated as newer reviews are added on top of older ones. We find that individual reviews have a strong effect on consumer purchase decisions. These effects are particularly pronounced when individual reviews contrast with the aggregate information that is instantly available on the product page or help consumers resolve uncertainty about the product.
Keywords: Online Product Reviews, Electronic Commerce, Endogeneity
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