DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00370

Acta Psychologica Sinica (心理学报) 2017/49:3 PP.370-382

Mixed effects of inconsistent reviews on consumers: The moderating roles of product attributes and regulatory focus

Inconsistency (If product A scores 3, 4, and 4, and product B scores 4, 4, and 4, then product A has higher reviews inconsistency compared to product B) frequently appears in online reviews. But prior research have conflicted findings regarding the effect direction of inconsistency on sales/firms. The reason is that previous studies largely ignored the review content such as product attributes. In fact, product reviews inconsistency are caused by consumers' different preferences and evaluation on the product attributes. In this paper, the product attributes are classified into vertical and horizontal attributes with the standard of uniform preference. According to the regulatory focus theory, reviews inconsistency of vertical attributes are more likely to trigger consumers' prevention focus, thus stimulate the risk perception of the product, and reduce their purchase intention; but reviews inconsistency of horizontal attributes are more likely to trigger consumers' promotion focus, thus stimulate the unique perception of the product, and increase their purchase intention. By introducing product attributes in the inconsistent reviews as a moderator, we tried to unify and explain the previous seemingly conflicting conclusions.
To obtain some preliminary insights, we collected 138 restaurants' group-buying posts and coded them as either vertical attributes or horizontal attributes. The analysis of this secondary data showed that the higher the inconsistency of vertical attribute reviews, the less the product sales; while the higher the inconsistency of horizontal attribute reviews, the more the product sales. Furthermore, we conducted two laboratory experiments to examine our hypothesis. In experiment 1, we used a 2 (reviews inconsistency:low vs. high)×2 (product attributes:vertical vs. horizontal) between-subjects design. In experiment 2, we used a 2 (reviews inconsistency:low vs. high)×2 (product attributes:vertical vs. horizontal)×2 (regulatory focus:prevention vs. promotion) between-subjects design. We recruited 270 graduated students as the subjects (130 in experiment 1 and 140 in experiment 2).
Results indicated that reviews inconsistency can stimulate consumers' perception of risk to reduce their purchase intention, while reviews inconsistency can stimulate consumers' perception of uniqueness to increase their purchase intention. In addition, the product attributes about reviews play a significant moderating role in the main effects. Namely, for the vertical attribute reviews, the reviews inconsistency are more likely to stimulate consumers' perception of risk, thereby reducing the purchase intention, and for the horizontal attribute reviews, the reviews inconsistency are more likely to stimulate consumers' perception of uniqueness, thereby increasing the purchase intention. Finally, the results indicated that the regulatory focus moderates the moderating effect of product attribute reviews.
By focusing on different consumer preferences for product attributes, this paper breaks the contradictory conclusions about the impact of reviews inconsistency in previous studies. This study extended the research in the field of consumer word-of-mouth. Regulatory focus theory was introduced to this research, which also extended the externality of this theory. Also, some theoretical and practical contributions were made in the product marketing strategy area.

Key words:reviews inconsistency,product attributes,risk perception,unique perception,purchase intention,regulatory focus

ReleaseDate:2017-04-10 17:47:50

Bauer, R. A. (1960). Consumer behavior as risk taking. In R. S. Hancock (Ed.), Dynamic marketing for a changing world (pp. 389-393). Chicago:American Marketing Association.

Bertini, M., Ofek, E., & Ariely, D. (2009). The impact of add-on features on consumer product evaluations. Journal of Consumer Research, 36(1), 17-28.

Chang, S. T., Lin, T. M. Y., & Luarn, P. (2014). The effects of word-of-mouth consistency on persuasiveness. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 31(2), 128-141.

Cheema, A., & Kaikati, A. M. (2010). The effect of need for uniqueness on word of mouth. Journal of Marketing Research, 47(3), 553-563.

Chen, Y. B., & Xie, J. H. (2008). Online consumer review:Word-of-mouth as a new element of marketing communication mix. Management Science, 54(3), 477-491.

Chevalier, J. A., & Mayzlin, D. (2006). The effect of word of mouth on sales:Online book reviews. Journal of Marketing Research, 43(3), 345-354.

Clemons, E. K., Gao, G. G., & Hitt, L. M. (2006). When online reviews meet hyperdifferentiation:A study of the craft beer industry. Journal of Management Information Systems, 23(2), 149-171.

Crowe, E., & Higgins, E. T. (1997). Regulatory focus and strategic inclinations:Promotion and prevention in decision-making. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 69(2), 117-132.

Cui, G., Zhuang, M. Z., & Peng, L. (2014). What if consumers view online product reviews as intentional manipulation? Journal of Marketing Science, 10(1), 21-33.

[崔耕, 庄梦舟, 彭玲. (2014). 莫让网评变为"罔评":故意操纵网络产品评论对消费者的影响. 营销科学学报, 10(1), 21-33.]

De Maeyer, P. (2012). Impact of online consumer reviews on sales and price strategies:A review and directions for future research. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 21(2), 132-139.

Du, X. M., Zhao, Z. B., & Cui, X. (2015). The effect of review valence, new product types and regulatory focus on new product online review usefulness. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 47, 555-568.

[杜晓梦, 赵占波, 崔晓. (2015). 评论效价、新产品类型与调节定向对在线评论有用性的影响. 心理学报, 47, 555-568.]

Festinger, L. (1962). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford:Stanford University Press.

Förster, J., Higgins, E. T., & Bianco, A. T. (2003). Speed/accuracy decisions in task performance:Built-in trade-off or separate strategic concerns? Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 90(1), 148-164.

Geers, A. L., Weiland, P. E., Kosbab, K., Landry, S. J., & Helfer, S. G. (2005). Goal activation, expectations, and the placebo effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89(2), 143-159.

Gopinath, S., Thomas, J. S., & Krishnamurthi, L. (2014). Investigating the relationship between the content of online word of mouth, advertising, and brand performance. Marketing Science, 33(2), 241-258.

Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis:A regression-based approach. New York:Guilford Press.

He, S. X., & Bond, S. D. (2015). Why is the crowd divided? Attribution for dispersion in online word of mouth. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(6), 1509-1527.

Higgins, E. T. (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain. American Psychologist, 52(12), 1280-1300.

Higgins, E. T., Friedman, R. S., Harlow, R. E., Idson, L. C., Ayduk, O. N., & Taylor, A. (2001). Achievement orientations from subjective histories of success:Promotion pride versus prevention pride. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31(1), 3-23.

Huang, M. X., Wang, B. B., & Liao, J. Y. (2015). The influence of preference variance in customer reviews on product sales. Journal of Marketing Science, 11(3), 1-17.

[黄敏学, 王贝贝, 廖俊云. (2015). 消费者评论中偏好差异性对销量的影响机制研究. 营销科学学报, 11(3), 1-17.]

Jiang, H. Y., Wang, H. Z., He, Y., & Zhu, L. (2016). The synergistic effect between corporate image and product's superior benefits:A stereotype content model approach. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 48(1), 95-105.

[江红艳, 王海忠, 何云, 朱力. (2016). 公司形象和产品属性超越的协同效应:基于刻板印象内容模型. 心理学报, 48(1), 95-105.]

Kim, K., & Chhajed, D. (2002). Product design with multiple quality-type attributes. Management Science, 48(11), 1502-1511.

Kim, W. G., Lim, H., & Brymer, R. A. (2015). The effectiveness of managing social media on hotel performance. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 44, 165-171.

Kwark, Y., Chen, J. Q., & Raghunathan, S. (2014). Online product reviews:Implications for retailers and competing manufacturers. Information Systems Research, 25(1), 93-110.

Lee, A. Y., Keller, P. A., & Sternthal, B. (2010). Value from regulatory construal fit:The persuasive impact of fit between consumer goals and message concreteness. Journal of Consumer Research, 36(5), 735-747.

Lee, T. Y., & Bradlow, E. T. (2011). Automated marketing research using online customer reviews. Journal of Marketing Research, 48(5), 881-894.

Li, D. J., Zhang, Y. P., & Zheng, J. (2015). Influence of scarcity perception on purchase intention-from an anticipated regret perspective. Systems Engineering, 33(11), 75-80.

[李东进, 张亚佩, 郑军. (2015). 稀缺感知对购买意向的影响--基于预期后悔的视角. 系统工程, 33(11), 75-80.]

Li, X., & Chen, Y. W. (2015). Effects of different eWOM supplementary forms on purchase intention:The moderating role of eWOM valence. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 48(6), 722-732.

[李信, 陈毅文. (2016). 口碑追加形式对购买意向的影响:口碑方向的调节作用. 心理学报, 48(6), 722-732.]

Liberman, N., Molden, D. C., Idson, L. C., & Higgins, E. T. (2001). Promotion and prevention focus on alternative hypotheses:Implications for attributional functions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80(1), 5-18.

Liu, Y. (2006). Word of mouth for movies:Its dynamics and impact on box office revenue. Journal of Marketing, 70(3), 74-89.

Lockwood, P., Jordan, C. H., & Kunda, Z. (2002). Motivation by positive or negative role models:Regulatory focus determines who will best inspire us. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(4), 854-864.

Lovett, M. J., Peres, R., & Shachar, R. (2013). On brands and word of mouth. Journal of Marketing Research, 50(4), 427-444.

Molden, D. C., & Finkel, E. J. (2010). Motivations for promotion and prevention and the role of trust and commitment in interpersonal forgiveness. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(2), 255-268.

Petersen, J. A., & Kumar, V. (2015). Perceived risk, product returns, and optimal resource allocation:Evidence from a field experiment. Journal of Marketing Research, 52(2), 268-285.

Pham, M. T., & Higgins, E. T. (2004). Promotion and prevention in consumer decision making:State of the art and theoretical propositions. Social Science Electronic Publishing.

Preacher, K. J., Rucker, D. D., & Hayes, A. F. (2007). Addressing moderated mediation hypotheses:Theory, methods, and prescriptions. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 42(1), 185-227.

Snyder, C. R., & Fromkin, H. L. (1977). Abnormality as a positive characteristic:The development and validation of a scale measuring need for uniqueness. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 86(5), 518-527.

Sun, M. (2011). Disclosing multiple product attributes. Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 20(1), 195-224.

Sun, M. (2012). How does the variance of product ratings matter? Management Science, 58(4), 696-707.

Tang, T., Fang, E., & Wang, F. (2014). Is neutral really neutral? The effects of neutral user-generated content on product sales. Journal of Marketing, 78(4), 41-58.

Wang, J., & Lee, A. Y. (2006). The role of regulatory focus in preference construction. Journal of Marketing Research, 43(1), 28-38.

Wang, T., Xie, Z. P., & Cui, C. (2014). Have a good chat with the brand:The impact of personified brand communication on consumer brand attitude. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 46(7), 987-999.

[汪涛, 谢志鹏, 崔楠. (2014). 和品牌聊聊天--拟人化沟通对消费者品牌态度影响. 心理学报, 46(7), 987-999.]

Wattal, S., Telang, R., & Mukhopadhyay, T. (2009). Information personalization in a two-dimensional product differentiation model. Journal of Management Information Systems, 26(2), 69-95.

Ye, Q., Law, R., & Gu, B. (2009). The impact of online user reviews on hotel room sales. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 28(1), 180-182.

Yin, F. F., & Wang, Y. (2013). Regulatory focus in consumer behavior research. Advances in Psychological Science, 21(2), 347-357.

[尹非凡, 王詠. (2013). 消费行为领域中的调节定向. 心理科学进展, 21(2), 347-357.]

Zhu, F., & Zhang, X. Q. (2010). Impact of online consumer reviews on sales:The moderating role of product and consumer characteristics. Journal of Marketing, 74(2), 133-148.

Zhu, R., & Meyers-Levy, J. (2007). Exploring the cognitive mechanism that underlies regulatory focus effects. Journal of Consumer Research, 34(1), 89-96.