Lee, L., and Wu, L. L. 2018. Popularity Information and Online Purchases: Consumer Interpretation as the Moderator. NTU Management Review, 28 (1): 141-174. doi:10.6226/NTUMR.201804_28(1).0004
Lynne Lee, Assistant Professor, International Business and Trade Program, Ming Chuan University
Ling-Ling Wu, Professor, Department of Information Management, National Taiwan University
Popularity information of products, frequently observed by consumers for making purchase decisions, has become an even more common point of reference in E-commerce where such information is readily updated. This study investigates how consumers interpret breadth of appeal and sales volume, which are two common kinds of popularity information that often co-exist on the Internet, with different inferences (quality evaluation or social comparison) under conditions when the two kinds of popularity information are congruent or incongruent. It is hypothesized that when a product’s breadth of appeal and sales volume are incongruent, the probability of purchasing a narrow-appeal product significantly increases compared to the condition of congruence; moreover, the magnitude of increase between the two conditions of congruency is higher for consumers with the inference of quality evaluation compared to that of social comparison. The method of laboratory experiment was adopted, with 200 participants. The empirical results strongly supported the proposed hypotheses and provided practical implications for e-commerce.
popularity informationsocial comparisonproduct qualitysignalonline purchase behavior