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Referral types and peer activation: Who to ask?

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This paper explores how consumers select different peers in their social network when obtaining positive verses negative referrals, and the role of social cues in this selection process. An inductive framework incorporating a mixed method process was employed. Thirty in-depth interviews were used to understand how consumers activate specific peers when seeking referrals. First, participants mapped their peer networks and, second, debriefs were undertaken to understand how their peer networks were used across ten product categories. Our research identifies that the choice of peer when seeking referral information is conditional on the type of referral sought. Also, that the cues used by consumers when selecting the most appropriate peer differ depending on the type of referral sought. The different peer activation for these two types of referrals indicates a need to adopt strategies specific to the different referral types.

Keywords: end state; mixed method; peer network; referral; regulatory fit

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Technology Sydney, Australia 2: University of Southampton, UK

Publication date: 2014-03-03

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