The impact of customer images on online purchase decisions: Evidence from a Chinese C2C Web site
The influence of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) on consumers’ online purchase decisions is well-documented. However, little is known about the impact of customer images, a recent form of eWOM. The present paper reports on an exploratory survey among 215 young users of the Chinese C2C shopping Web site Taobao.com. The idea was to test whether the so-called information adoption model — and in particular a variant used in earlier research on an online consumer community — could be transposed to the case of customer images. We find that the perceived quality of customer images — and in particular their ‘comprehensiveness’ — has a significant positive impact on purchase intention. This suggests that shopping sites should encourage customers to share high-quality customer images. From a methodological perspective, the limited reliability of two of the quality dimensions (namely ‘relevance’ and ‘timeliness’) catches the eye. This suggests that there is a need for a dedicated theoretical framework and for scales that take into account the specific nature of customer images. Simply transposing scales that have been validated for other forms of eWOM would not appear to be the best approach.
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