Interacting User-Generated Content Technologies: How Questions and Answers Affect Consumer Reviews

46 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2018

See all articles by Shrabastee Banerjee

Shrabastee Banerjee

Boston University - Department of Marketing

Chrysanthos Dellarocas

Boston University, Questrom School of Business - Department of Information Systems

Georgios Zervas

Questrom School of Business, Boston University

Date Written: August 29, 2018

Abstract

We study the question and answer (Q&A) technology of electronic commerce platforms, an increasingly common form of user-generated content that allows consumers to publicly ask product-specific questions and receive responses, either from the platform or from other customers. Using data from a major online retailer, we show that Q&As complement consumer ratings and reviews: unlike reviews, questions are primarily asked pre-purchase, focus on clarification of product attributes rather than discussion of quality, and convey fit-specific information in a predominantly sentiment-free way. Based on these observations, we hypothesize that Q&As mitigate product fit uncertainty, leading to better matches between products and consumers, and therefore improved product ratings. We find that when products suffering from fit uncertainty start receiving Q&As, their subsequent ratings improve by approximately 0.1 to 0.5 stars and the fraction of negative reviews that discuss fit-related issues declines. The extent of the rating increase due to Q&As is moderated by the degree of ex-ante fit uncertainty. Our findings suggest that, by resolving product fit uncertainty in an e-commerce setting, the addition of Q&As can be a viable way for retailers to improve ratings and sales of products that have incurred low ratings due to customer-product fit mismatch.

Keywords: e-commerce, user-generated content, Q&As, reputation systems

Suggested Citation

Banerjee, Shrabastee and Dellarocas, Chrysanthos N. and Zervas, Georgios, Interacting User-Generated Content Technologies: How Questions and Answers Affect Consumer Reviews (August 29, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3240885 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3240885

Shrabastee Banerjee (Contact Author)

Boston University - Department of Marketing ( email )

United States

Chrysanthos N. Dellarocas

Boston University, Questrom School of Business - Department of Information Systems ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Georgios Zervas

Questrom School of Business, Boston University ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://people.bu.edu/zg

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