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How Does the Variance of Product Ratings Matter?

  • Monic Sun

    ()

    (Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305; and Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089)

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    This paper examines the informational role of product ratings. We build a theoretical model in which ratings can help consumers figure out how much they would enjoy the product. In our model, a high average rating indicates a high product quality, whereas a high variance of ratings is associated with a niche product, one that some consumers love and others hate. Based on its informational role, a higher variance would correspond to a higher subsequent demand if and only if the average rating is low. We find empirical evidence that is consistent with the theoretical predictions with book data from Amazon.com and BN.com. A higher standard deviation of ratings on Amazon improves a book's relative sales rank when the average rating is lower than 4.1 stars, which is true for 35% of all the books in our sample. This paper was accepted by Pradeep Chintagunta, marketing.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1110.1458
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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 58 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 4 (April)
    Pages: 696-707

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:58:y:2012:i:4:p:696-707
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    1. Monic Sun & Feng Zhu, 2011. "Ad Revenue and Content Commercialization: Evidence from Blogs," Working Papers 11-32, NET Institute.
    2. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
    3. Pradeep K. Chintagunta & Shyam Gopinath & Sriram Venkataraman, 2010. "The Effects of Online User Reviews on Movie Box Office Performance: Accounting for Sequential Rollout and Aggregation Across Local Markets," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(5), pages 944-957, 09-10.
    4. Yubo Chen & Jinhong Xie, 2008. "Online Consumer Review: Word-of-Mouth as a New Element of Marketing Communication Mix," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(3), pages 477-491, March.
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    6. Xiaoquan (Michael) Zhang & Feng Zhu, 2011. "Group Size and Incentives to Contribute: A Natural Experiment at Chinese Wikipedia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1601-15, June.
    7. Justin P. Johnson & David P. Myatt, 2006. "On the Simple Economics of Advertising, Marketing, and Product Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 756-784, June.
    8. Brynjolfsson, Erik & Smith, Michael D. & Yu, (Jeffrey) Hu, 2003. "Consumer Surplus in the Digital Economy: Estimating the Value of Increased Product Variety at Online Booksellers," Working papers 4305-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    9. Monic Sun, 2011. "Disclosing Multiple Product Attributes," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 195-224, 03.
    10. Dirk Bergemann & Juuso Välimäki, 2006. "Dynamic Pricing of New Experience Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 713-743, August.
    11. Yubo Chen & Jinhong Xie, 2005. "Third-Party Product Review and Firm Marketing Strategy," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(2), pages 218-240, February.
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    13. Chrysanthos Dellarocas, 2006. "Strategic Manipulation of Internet Opinion Forums: Implications for Consumers and Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(10), pages 1577-1593, October.
    14. West, Patricia M & Broniarczyk, Susan M, 1998. " Integrating Multiple Opinions: The Role of Aspiration Level on Consumer Response to Critic Consensus," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 38-51, June.
    15. Liang Guo & J. Miguel Villas-Boas, 2007. "Consumer Stockpiling and Price Competition in Differentiated Markets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 827-858, December.
    16. David Godes & Dina Mayzlin, 2004. "Using Online Conversations to Study Word-of-Mouth Communication," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(4), pages 545-560, June.
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