Funded PhD Research

Hengchen Dai and Cindy Chan

People Rely Less on Consumer Reviews for Experiential than Material Purchases

Operations and Information Management Department, Marketing Dpartment; Faculty Adviser: Cassie Mogilner

An increasingly prevalent form of social influence occurs online where consumers read reviews written by other consumers. But do people rely on consumer reviews differently when making experiential purchases (events to live through) than when making material purchases (objects to keep)? An analysis of more than 6 million reviews on Amazon.com and seven laboratory experiments reveal that people are less likely to rely on consumer reviews for experiential purchases than for material purchases. This tendency is driven by beliefs about whether purchase assessments are more a matter of personal taste or objective quality. Compared to material purchases, people view assessments of experiential purchases to be more a matter of taste than quality, which undermines their reliance on other consumers’ reviews. These findings inform how different types of purchases are influenced by word-of-mouth and contribute to an emerging literature on the psychology underlying the perceived usefulness of consumer reviews. Furthermore, as one of the first investigations into how people choose among various experiential and material purchase options, this research suggests that people are more open to being told what to have than what to do.

Publications, Presentations & Awards

Publications

Dai, Hengchen, Cindy Chan and Cassie Mogilner (2017), “People Rely Less on Consumer Reviews for Experiential than Material Purchases,” Working Paper. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2493536

Dai, Hengchen, Cindy Chan and Cassie Mogilner (2015), “‘Don’t Tell Me What to Do!’ Shoppers Rely Less on Consumer Reviews for Experiential than Material Purchases,” Working Paper. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2493536

In the Press:

“Buyers of Experiential Products and Consumer Reviews,” IEDP Ideas for Leaders (2015). https://www.ideasforleaders.com/ideas/buyers-of-experiential-products-and-consumer-reviews

Presentations

Association for Consumer Research, San Diego, CA, 2017

Society for Judgment & Decision Making Conference, Boston, MA, 2016

Behavioral Decision Research in Management Conference, Toronto, ON, 2016

Subjective Probability, Utility, and Decision Making Conference, Barcelona, Spain, 2013