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Do online reviews still matter post-purchase?

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Purpose

The influence of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) information, such as online reviews, on consumers’ decision making is well documented, but it is unclear if online reviews still matter in post-purchase evaluation and behaviours. The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which online reviews (aggregate rating (AR) and individual reviews (IR)) influence consumers’ evaluation and post-purchase behaviour by considering the valence congruence of online reviews and consumption experience (CE).

Design/methodology/approach

Following social comparison theory and relevant literature, the authors conduct an online experiment (pre-test: n=180; main study: n=347). The authors rely on a 2 (CE valence) ×2 (AR valence) ×2 (IR valence) between-subjects design.

Findings

Congruence/incongruence between the valences of CE, AR and IR affects consumers’ post-purchase evaluation at the emotional, brand and media levels and review-writing behaviour. In comparison to aggregated rating, IR are more important in the post-purchase stage. Similarly, consumers have a higher eWOM-writing intention when there is congruence between the valences of CE, AR and IR.

Practical implications

The authors demonstrate the importance of service providers continually monitoring their business profiles on review sites to ensure consistency of review information, as these influence consumers’ post-purchase evaluation and behaviours. For this reason, the authors illustrate the utility of why media owners of review sites should support the monitoring process to facilitate the engagement of both businesses and customers.

Originality/value

The authors break new ground by empirically testing the impact of online review information post-purchase seen through the theoretical lens of social comparison. The approach is novel in breaking down and testing the dimensions of post-purchase evaluation and behavioural intentions in understanding the social comparison elicited by online reviews in the post-purchase phase.
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Keywords: Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM); Online reviews; Polarisation effects; Post-purchase evaluation; Social comparison

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Essex Business School, University of Essex, Colchester, UK 2: Hull University Business School, University of Hull, Hull, UK 3: The University of Sheffield Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK 4: Coventry Business School, Coventry University, Coventry, UK

Publication date: February 23, 2020

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