Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of a retailer-managed ranking system on product reviewers’ well-being and its relationship to customer engagement. Design/methodology/approach – Content analysis of reviewers’ posts, generated over a six-month period following a critical incident involving a change in the reviewer ranking system, informs findings. Findings – Fulfilling needs for social relatedness, competency and autonomy may be critical aspects that underlie reviewer engagement. Findings explain how organic and hierarchical reviewing platform design elements may support or thwart psychological need fulfillment. Reviewers expressed positive well-being when system elements facilitated organic interactions between consumers and reviewers, fulfilling social relatedness and competency needs. Hierarchical design elements elicited mixed well-being sentiments. When reviewers used rank as a feedback mechanism to signal competency development, positive well-being emerged, whereas ranking features perceived as lacking in integrity or reducing one’s autonomy, evoked negative sentiments. A stimulus-organism-response framework, grounded in environmental psychology, provides the basis for the online reviewer engagement model. This study deepens understanding of online customer engagement by illustrating how a ranking system and social elements influence well-being and motive fulfilment, key psychological processes associated with engagement. Research limitations/implications – Highly engaged reviewers on one community platform inform findings, so results are not representative of all reviewers, but are relevant for conceptual purposes concerning critical incidents. Practical implications – Findings have implications for the design of recognition platforms created to support customer engagement in online reviewing communities. Social implications – Public ranking systems designed to recognize and reward reviewers can enhance as well as degrade consumer well-being within an online service environment. Originality/value – First empirical work to examine the value of consumer well-being as it relates to engagement within an online reviewing service context.
Journal of Consumer Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 4, 2014
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