Journal article Open Access

Which cues influence the perceived usefulness and credibility of an online review? A conjoint analysis

Lopes, Ana Isabel; Dens, Nathalie; De Pelsmacker, Patrick; De Keyzer, Freya

PurposeThis study aims to assess the relative importance of the argument strength, argument sidedness, writing quality, number of arguments, rated review usefulness, summary review rating and number of reviews in determining the perceived usefulness and credibility of an online review. Additionally, the authors use insights from the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) to explore the effect of consumers' product category involvement on the cues' relative importance.Design/methodology/approachA conjoint analysis (N = 287) is used to study the relative importance of the seven previously mentioned attributes. A balanced orthogonal design generated eight cards that correspond to individual reviews. Respondents scored all eight cards in a random order for perceived usefulness and credibility.FindingsOverall, argument strength is the most important cue, while summary review rating and the number of reviews are the least important for perceived review usefulness and credibility. The number of arguments is more important for people who are more highly involved with the product, while writing quality and rated review usefulness are relatively more important for the low-involvement group.Originality/valueThis study provides a comprehensive test of how consumers perceive online reviews, as it the first to the authors' knowledge to simultaneously investigate a large set of cues using conjoint analysis. This method allows for the implicit valuation (utility) of the individual cues, revealing the cues' relative importance, in a setting that comes close to a real-life context. Besides, insights of the ELM are used to understand how the relative importance of cues differs depending on the level of review readers' product category involvement.
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