Marketing History

Kevin Lewis

April 11, 2020

Full Disclosure: How Smartphones Enhance Consumer Self-Disclosure
Shiri Melumad & Robert Meyer
Journal of Marketing, May 2020, Pages 28-45


Results from three large-scale field studies and two controlled experiments show that consumers tend to be more self-disclosing when generating content on their smartphone versus personal computer. This tendency is found in a wide range of domains including social media posts, online restaurant reviews, open-ended survey responses, and compliance with requests for personal information in web advertisements. The authors show that this increased willingness to self-disclose on one's smartphone arises from the psychological effects of two distinguishing properties of the device: (1) feelings of comfort that many associate with their smartphone and (2) a tendency to narrowly focus attention on the disclosure task at hand due to the relative difficulty of generating content on the smaller device. The enhancing effect of smartphones on self-disclosure yields several important marketing implications, including the creation of content that is perceived as more persuasive by outside readers. The authors explore implications for how these findings can be strategically leveraged by managers, including how they may generalize to other emerging technologies.

Stay True to Your Roots? Category Distance, Hierarchy, and the Performance of New Entrants in the Music Industry
Peter Younkin & Keyvan Kashkooli
Organization Science, forthcoming


New entrants in established markets face competing recommendations over whether it is better to establish their legitimacy by conforming to type or to differentiate themselves from incumbents by proposing novel contributions. This dilemma is particularly acute in cultural markets in which demand for novelty and attention to legitimacy are both high. We draw upon research in organizational theory and entrepreneurship to hypothesize the effects of pursuing narrow or broad appeals on the performance of new entrants in the music industry. We propose that the sales of novel products vary with the distance perceived between the classes being combined and that this happens, in part, because combinations that appear to span great distances encourage consumers to adopt superordinate rather than subordinate classes (e.g., to classify and evaluate something as a "song" rather than a "country song"). Using a sample of 144 artists introduced to the public via the U.S. television program The Voice, we find evidence of a U-shaped relationship between category distance and consumer response. Specifically, consumers reward new entrants who pursue either familiarity (i.e., nonspanning) or distinctive combinations (i.e., combine distant genres) but reject efforts that try to balance both goals. An experimental test validates that manipulating the perceived distance an artist spans influences individual evaluations of product quality and the hierarchy of categorization. Together these results provide initial evidence that distant combinations are more likely to be classified using a superordinate category, mitigating the potential confusion and legitimacy-based penalties that affect middle-distance combinations.

Is everybody an expert? An investigation into the impact of professional versus user reviews on movie revenues
Suman Basuroy et al.
Journal of Cultural Economics, March 2020, Pages 57-96


This study is the first attempt to examine the effect of electronic word of mouth (user reviews) relative to expert reviews on moviegoing decisions. For the first time, we use time-varying data on expert reviews. We find that expert ratings matter much more for moviegoing decisions than user ratings and volume. Our data also show that experts tend to be more critical but more consistent in their reviews than users. We find that experts, but not eWOM, affect wide release moviegoing, contrary to industry thinking. Finally, we show that experts' reviews matter most when consumers and critics are in closer agreement about the quality of the film. The study uses OLS as well as instrumental variables analysis to account for possible endogeneity.

The Strength of Weak-Tie Consensus Language
Jeffrey Lee & Ann Kronrod
Journal of Marketing Research, April 2020, Pages 353-374


Every day, consumers share word of mouth (WOM) on how products and behaviors are commonly adopted through the use of consensus language. Consensus language refers to words and expressions that suggest general agreement among a group of people regarding an opinion, product, or behavior (e.g., "everyone likes this movie"). In a series of online and field experiments, the authors demonstrate that the interpretation and persuasiveness of consensus language depends on the tie strength between the communicator and the receiver of WOM. Although abundant literature highlights the advantage of strong ties (e.g., close friends, family) in influence and persuasion, the authors find that weak ties (e.g., distant friends, acquaintances) are more influential than strong ties when using consensus language. The authors theorize and demonstrate that this effect occurs because weak ties evoke perceptions of a larger and more diverse group in consensus, which signals greater validity for the issue at hand. These findings contribute to research on WOM, tie strength, and descriptive norms and provide practical implications for marketers on ways to analyze and encourage consumer discourse.

Impacts of Performance-Enhancing Drug Suspensions on the Demand for Major League Baseball
Jeffrey Cisyk
Journal of Sports Economics, May 2020, Pages 391-419


In 2005, Major League Baseball (MLB) introduced a new policy regarding the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) wherein the league would not only suspend but also publicly name any player who tested positive for banned PEDs. Using the estimated television audience size of MLB games from 2006 to 2012, these PED suspension announcements provide a unique natural experiment to test how consumers react to news of PED use. This study finds that PED announcements have two major impacts on the demand for baseball. First, there is on average an immediate 9.3% reduction in the television audience of the PED player's team. Second, the magnitude of the effect gradually decreases over time yet remains negative and significant for a period of 37 days or approximately 33 game-broadcasts. This is the first study to link PED use to an adverse reaction by consumers in a systematic way using television audience while controlling for the change in team quality caused by removing the suspended player from the team.


Birds of a Feather Feel Together: Emotional Ability Similarity in Consumer Interactions
Blair Kidwell et al.
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming


The authors introduce emotional ability similarity to explain consumer satisfaction in interactions with frontline sales and service employees and other consumers beyond the effects of traditional relational variables in the similarity-attraction paradigm. Four studies examine how and why similar abilities for using emotional information between two people promote relational success in marketplace exchanges. We find that when interacting with others, consumers who exchange nonverbal information with their partners experience (dis)similarity in their emotional ability (EA). Similar dyads who rely on expressive (high-high EA pairs) or inexpressive (low-low EA pairs) emotion norms experience significantly greater satisfaction in their interactions than consumers with dissimilar norms (high-low EA pairs). Together, these findings advance the understanding of consumer relationships and satisfaction by establishing EA similarity as a new avenue for consumer research.

Returnable Reciprocity: When Optional Gifts Increase Compliance
Julian Zlatev & Todd Rogers
Harvard Working Paper, March 2020


Classic takes on the norm of reciprocity find that receipt of a gift increases compliance with a later request. We find that giving people the opportunity to return this gift surprisingly increases compliance rates, a phenomenon we call "returnable reciprocity". Across four studies (N = 3,786), we find evidence that returnable reciprocity leads to greater compliance in a large-scale field experiment (Study 1), as well as in conceptual lab replications (Studies 2 and 3) involving different domains. We provide evidence that this increased compliance may be due to increased feelings of guilt for non-compliance (Study 3). Finally, we find that while the economic cost of returnable reciprocity is negligible, it may create additional psychological or societal costs that must be taken into account when assessing its social welfare implications (Study 4). We end by discussing the theoretical, practical and social welfare implications of this novel compliance strategy.


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