Assessing the Helpfulness of Online Product Review: A Progressive Experimental Approach
The online product review has been advocated as an important determinant of a consumer's purchase decision. Although prior research has been instrumental in articulating the benefits of the online product review, there remains a dearth of investigation on what kind of product review will be perceived to be helpful to a consumer. Through two sequential experiments, we investigate the endogenous features of a product review that influence the helpfulness of the perceived product review. Product review helpfulness is manifested by the review's source credibility and the review's diagnosticity. Results from the first experiment reveal that a consumer review is more credible than the expert review. Leading from this, we conduct the second experiment and focus on examining the influence of the type of consumer review (reflected the level of review abstractness). The results indicate that subjects perceive the concrete consumer review (i.e., of low abstractness) as more diagnostic than the abstract consumer review. Examining the two experimental results holistically, we deduce that consumer reviews with low levels of abstractness (i.e., are highly concrete) could yield higher degrees of perceived helpfulness compared with highly abstract consumer reviews and expert reviews. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed.