Typology of Online Reviewers Based on Their Motives for Writing Online Reviews

Typology of Online Reviewers Based on Their Motives for Writing Online Reviews

Sai Vijay Tata (Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi, India), Sanjeev Prashar (Indian Institute of Management, Raipur, India) and Chandan Parsad (Indian Institute of Management Bodh Gaya, Bodh Gaya, India)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/JECO.2021040105
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Abstract

Literature on online reviews has largely deliberated on factors that influence shoppers' behaviour. Few studies have examined the reasons that motivate shoppers to write online reviews and not much attention has been given to understand the differences among shoppers who provide online reviews. Despite the exponential growth of e-commerce and that of the impact of online reviews, very little is known about the segments of review providers. This paper addresses the gap by developing and profiling shoppers based on their motivations to write online reviews. The objective is to identify profiles of shoppers who intend to write online reviews based on the factors identified as important in the process of writing reviews. Cluster analysis was used to profile the customers in various segments. The findings indicated three distinct segments. The results of this research are pertinent to online and offline retailers to comprehend shoppers' motivations to write online reviews, which would help them to develop marketing strategies as per the profile of each segment.
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Introduction

The growth of internet-based communication systems has fuelled the development of various online platforms that help current and prospective customers to receive and share unbiased information. These modern trends of information sharing have enormous implications for businesses, especially marketing managers (Lee & Lee, 2006; Pfeffer et al., 2014; Zhang et al., 2017). As e-commerce spreads itself in every corner of the globe, the focus is increasingly on addressing the issues of customer relationship management. The feedback provided by online customers in the form of online reviews pertains to the product/service, the service provider and the delivery process. Besides facilitating the retailers in their endeavour to work for customer satisfaction, these reviews also help the potential consumers who are willing to buy a product/service and need information about the same (Erkan & Evans, 2018; Xie et al., 2016).

In the last few years, the influence of online reviews has received extensive attention from academicians as well as industry experts. The existing empirical research has observed that shoppers tend to depend a great deal on the online reviews available to them (Kaemingk, 2019; Murphy, 2019). The extant research in the domain of marketing has comprehensively examined the significance of the information received by shoppers through informal sources that influences their buying behaviour (Engel et al., 1969; Gilly et al., 1998; Goldsmith & Clark, 2008). Hence, it becomes pertinent for the business firms to gather information about the shoppers, their usage of online reviews and their intentions to write reviews.

The existing research in the area of online reviews pertained to the helpfulness/usefulness of reviews (e.g. Park, 2018; Ren & Hong, 2019), their influence on sales (e.g. Li et al., 2019; Zhang et al., 2013), influence on shoppers’ purchase decisions (e.g. Chen & Chang, 2018; Erkan & Evans, 2018), information adoption (e.g. Hussain et al., 2018; Vijay et al., 2017) etc. However, none of the existing studies has explored the group of shoppers who are inclined towards writing reviews. These shoppers are of utmost importance as they tend to be the information disseminators, and firms must identify such shoppers. It is essential to segment these online shoppers to determine their motivation for writing online reviews. The paper endeavours to identify and profile the segments based on online shoppers’ motivations in posting reviews about product, company or the portal from where they have purchased the product.

If firms can recognize and outline segments of the shoppers, if any, and characterize them, they can select and serve the segments that are most appropriate for them and would be able to provide the goods and services to the targeted segments precisely. Market segmentation benefits a firm by satisfying consumers’ and reducing the gap between their expectations and perceptions (Diaz Martin et al., 2000; Martinez & Morales, 2015). Therefore, the primary objective of the present research is to identify profiles of shoppers who intend to write online reviews based on identified factors deemed as necessary in the process of writing reviews.

To comprehend and serve the shoppers using the online channel, researchers have attempted to segment the online consumer market (Prashar et al., 2019; Vijayasarathy, 2003). The extant literature hasn’t explored and established consumer segments of shoppers who write product reviews. This paper endeavours to study this research gap by segmenting online shoppers based on factors that motivate them to write online reviews and provide a few implications for retailers. The present study has profiled the online reviewers based on factors namely – product usefulness, site usefulness, enjoyment and involvement. This, however, is not an exhaustive list that motivates reviewers to post their opinions. Other factors can also influence their motivations.

The paper follows the following pattern – the second part discusses the literature related to various motivating factors. The subsequent sections present the design and methodology adopted, followed by data analysis. The final section of the paper presents a brief discussion based on the results, followed by a few implications for the managers. The paper concludes with limitation and future scope of the study.

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