Visibility and Peer Influence in Durable Good Adoption

65 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019 Last revised: 21 Aug 2023

See all articles by Bryan Bollinger

Bryan Bollinger

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Kenneth Gillingham

Yale University

A. Justin Kirkpatrick

Duke University

Steven Sexton

Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy

Date Written: March 21, 2021

Abstract

The underlying channels through which peer influence operates in durable good adoption can affect the ability of marketers to leverage them. In this paper, we assess whether the visibility of peers' adoption decisions leads to greater peer influence. The context we study is residential rooftop solar panels. We exploit the plausibly exogenous location and orientation of peers' rooftop solar panels relative to proximate roadways and visual obstructions, such as vegetation, in order to determine whether geographically proximate peer installations increase a household's probability of solar adoption more if they are visible from the road. We find that the total angle of visibility of peer installations on the same street positively affects solar adoption decisions at distances of at least 500 meters. In contrast, we only find a positive effect of non-visible solar arrays within 100m, which may be due to causal peer influence via other channels such as word-of-mouth, or very localized unobservable effects. The effect of peer visibility is moderated by the economic value the peers receive from installing solar, providing suggestive evidence of social learning through visual information.

Keywords: peer effects, social interactions, diffusion, visibility, solar

Suggested Citation

Bollinger, Bryan and Gillingham, Kenneth and Kirkpatrick, A. Justin and Sexton, Steven, Visibility and Peer Influence in Durable Good Adoption (March 21, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3409420 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3409420

Bryan Bollinger (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

40 W 4th St
Tisch 804
New York, NY 10012
United States

Kenneth Gillingham

Yale University ( email )

493 College St
New Haven, CT CT 06520
United States

A. Justin Kirkpatrick

Duke University

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Steven Sexton

Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy ( email )

201 Science Drive
Box 90312
Durham, NC 27708-0239
United States

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