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Title: Understanding the factors that influence the effectiveness of online customer reviews : a thematic analysis of receiver perspectives
Author: Clare, Carl J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 6209
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2012
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Defined as peer-generated product evaluations posted on company or third party websites (Mudambi & Schuff, 2010), online customer reviews are increasingly available for a wide range of products or services. Existing research on the factors that influence the effectiveness of online customer reviews has been implemented from a quantitative perspective, using experimentation and survey based methods to collect data, or analysing secondary data sets such as groups of online customer reviews from retailers such as Amazon. Whilst these studies were able to measure the impact of preselected determinants on concepts such as review helpfulness or review credibility they lacked qualitative in depth understanding, and fail to address key questions directly. This thesis marks a departure from existing studies that seek to understand the factors influencing the effectiveness of online customer reviews in that a qualitative approach was adopted to study a topic what has been previously studied from a quantitative perspective. It contributes to existing theory by providing a more in depth understanding of these factors, based on the testimonies of a sample made up of consumers that used online customer reviews on a regular basis. Sixteen interviews were conducted from a sample of twelve participants over two phases. In the pilot phase, participants discussed their experiences of using online customer reviews to assist with purchasing decisions, although the participant's responses were subject to the limitations of human memory. For the second phase, participants were given access to a PC and asked to locate online customer reviews related to an imminent purchasing decision. These reviews were then used as a stimulus for discussing the qualities of reviews that were seen as helpful and credible. The findings illustrated how many different factors across three categories (personal factors, environmental factors and message characteristics consisting of informational and normative determinants) enhanced or limited the effectiveness of online customer reviews, contributing to theory relating to the factors influencing review consultation and factors influencing perceptions of review helpfulness and review credibility. The findings also provide marketing managers and platform providers with detailed information that could be used to improve platforms, so that they can better facilitate the generation of reviews that are considered as helpful and credible by consumers that use them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available