Research addressing the message appeals of online customer reviews has arisen to deepen our understanding of consumer decision-making in online retail environments. Prior research suggests that there are two types of message appeals: emotional and rational (Huang et al., 2013; Kotler & Keller, 2008; Liu et al., 2018; Wu & Wang, 2011). The former can elicit consumers’ emotions to induce purchase willingness, whereas the latter appeals to their cognition and reasoning highlighting product functions and practical benefits. Retailing research (e.g., Kang & Park-Poaps, 2010) to date has widely explored consumers’ shopping orientations, which are largely originated from hedonic and utilitarian conceptions. However, the congruence effect between a message appeal of online customer reviews and shopping orientation has not been sufficiently established. To address this research gap, the purposes of this study were (a) to investigate how a congruence between a message appeal of online reviews and shopping orientation affects perceived relevance of information presented in an online customer review and, in turn, leads to consumers’ purchase intention and (b) to examine the role of cumulative customer satisfaction and overall perceived risk in directly affecting purchase intention as well as in moderating the relationship between perceived relevance and purchase intention. A 2 (message appeal of online customer reviews: emotional vs. rational) x 2 (shopping orientation: hedonic vs. utilitarian) between-subjects experiment was conducted with 227 U.S. participants through Amazon Mechanical Turk. The results confirmed the congruence effect between a message appeal of online customer reviews and shopping orientation, ultimately leading to purchase intention. The participants who had a hedonic (vs. utilitarian) shopping orientation perceived a higher congruence when they viewed an emotional (vs. rational) review than a rational (vs. emotional) one. The relationship between perceived congruence and purchase intention was partially mediated by perceived information relevance. Contrary to the hypothesis, the participants were more willing to purchase a product that has a relevant review when they had been less (vs. more) satisfied with an e-tailer over time. However, both direct and indirect effects of perceived risk were found to be insignificant. The results of this study contribute to the literature on electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) by providing empirical evidence of congruence effects in online customer reviews. In addition, this study extends the findings of prior research by confirming the role of perceived information relevance. This study offers actionable guidelines to practitioners in ways to increase perceived information relevance.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. May 2020. Major: Design, Housing and Apparel. Advisor: Hye-Young Kim. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 125 pages.
Congruence Effects in Online Customer Reviews: The Mediating Role of Perceived Information Relevance.
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