“59% of customers believe that reviews influence their buying behavior.”
(Xu et. al, 2015)
….You can only imagine the influence reviews have on product sales and what a valuable asset they are to businesses!
Especially for experience goods, the generation of reviews ensures quality and provides social control. Throughout the past weeks, the elective on ‘customer-centric digital commerce’ has shed light on the underlying motivations of users to post reviews, the possibilities to structure them and how (not) to respond to them. We have realized that format and style can have significant effects on consumers’ perceptions and buying behavior.
Nowadays, many e-commerce companies are experimenting with 3D visuals or videos to market their products. So, why not use this method for reviews? Though videos require more time and effort, they are much more informative and fun to watch. For example, P&G has already implemented product video reviews for Tide Pods in 2012 and it was a great success! Therefore, Xu, Chen and Santhaman (2015) take on the challenge of exploring the effects of video reviews and comparing them with text and image reviews across a range of products: Cameras, backpacks and videogames:
The camera is a search good, the videogame is an experience good and the backpack resides in the middle of the continuum. The effects were measured on
based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model and the Cognitive Fit Theory.
As expected, the video format scored much higher on all three dimensions for all three product types. Thus, a video format for reviews influences purchase intentions by increasing credibility, persuasiveness and helpfulness! The biggest difference between video and the other two formats was for the backpack, which can be both a search or experience good.
The authors argue that this finding states the following:
- The backpack can be considered as an experience good, containing important spatial features, textures and colors, ultimately confirming their expectations.
- E-commercialization blurs the line between search and experience goods, meaning that it is hard to distinguish the one from the other in online environments. Thus, it very much depends on the perceptions and needs of the consumer.
Over all, images contribute no helpful information and therefore a combination of text and video would probably be the most suitable option to increase purchase intentions. I find this fascinating, because it opens up a new world for reviews…
In the future, we might be developing 3D or virtual review experiences. Imagine sharing the advantages and disadvantages of your backpack during your actual backpacking trip through Vietnam through a live stream! Academics can explore these effects for different product types and in different online settings. For practioners in the e-commerce industry, there are countless benefits to exploit.
Xu, P., Chen, L. and Santhanam, R., 2015. Will video be the next generation of e-commerce product reviews? Presentation format and the role of product type. Decision Support Systems, 73, pp.85-96.