What Drives Herding Behavior in Online Ratings? The Role of Rater Experience, Product Portfolio, and Diverging Opinions

Sarang Sunder, Kihyun Hannah Kim, Eric A. Yorkston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Consumers’ postpurchase evaluations have received much attention due to the strong link between ratings and sales. However, less is known about how herding effects from reference groups (i.e., crowd and friends) unfold in online ratings. This research examines the role of divergent opinions, rater experience, and firm product portfolio in attenuating/amplifying herding influences in online rating environments. Applying robust econometric techniques on data from a community of board gamers, we find that herding effects are significant and recommend a more nuanced view of herding. Highlighting the role of rater experience, the positive influence of the crowd is weakened and friend influences are amplified as the rater gains experience. Furthermore, divergent opinions between reference groups create herding and differentiation depending on the reference group and the rater’s experience level. Finally, firms can influence online opinion through their product portfolio in profound ways. A broad and deep product portfolio not only leads to favorable quality inferences but also attenuates social influence. Implications for online reputation management, rating system design, and firm product strategy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-112
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Marketing
Volume83
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing

Keywords

  • disagreement
  • diverging opinions
  • herding effects
  • online ratings
  • product scope
  • rater experience
  • reflection problem

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