The sales effect of word of mouth: a model for creative goods and estimates for novels
Weekly sales of creative goods—like music records, movies, or books—usually peak shortly after release and then decline quickly. In many cases, however, they follow a hump-shaped pattern where sales increase for some time. A popular explanation for this phenomenon is word of mouth among a population of heterogeneous buyers, but previous studies typically assume buyer homogeneity or neglect word of mouth altogether. In this paper, I study a model of new-product diffusion with heterogeneous buyers that allows for a quantification of the sales effect of word of mouth. The model includes Christmas sales as a special case. All parameters have an intuitive interpretation. Simulation results suggest that the parameters are estimable for data that are not too volatile and that cover a sufficiently large part of a title’s life cycle. I estimate the model for four exemplary novels using scanner data on weekly sales. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007
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