Purpose – Electronic word of mouth (eWOM) is a considerably influential factor for consumers to search for product information. Nowadays, consumers can easily post visual information (e.g. pictures or videos) to convey product information and consumption‐related experiences. Yet, prior eWOM studies focused primarily on the verbal information of eWOM. Few studies have paid sufficient attention to the effects of visual information in eWOM communication. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to employ blogs to investigate the effects of visual information on consumers' perception of eWOM message quality, credibility, product interest, and purchase intention. Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted two empirical studies in the field of different product categories. Data were collected from subjects ranged in age from 16 to 50 ( n =155 for study 1, n =309 for study 2), and analyzed using independent‐samples t test and univariate analysis of variance (ANOVA). Findings – Results show that subjects rated eWOM articles in blogs with visual information significantly higher in four areas than identical articles without visual information. Furthermore, there is an interaction effect between product category and visual information on product interest and purchase intention. Compared with experience products, when subjects read the eWOM information of search products with pictures (versus without pictures), they would generate greater product interest and purchase intention. In addition, the effect of visual information is stronger not only for search products (no matter whether utilitarian or hedonic products) but also for experience‐hedonic products than for experience‐utilitarian products. Originality/value – The findings of this study provide useful knowledge for internet marketers to develop effective eWOM marketing and thus increase consumer trust in eWOM and intention to purchase products. Although visual information is found to be important, different product categories should take advantage of visual information in different degrees.
Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 23, 2012
Keywords: Marketing strategy; Consumer behaviour; Internet; Electronic word of mouth; eWOM; Visual information communication; Product categories; Message quality; Credibility; Experience/search products; Utilitarian/hedonic products
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