Product Success in Cultural Markets: The Mediating Role of Familiarity, Peers, and Experts
The mediation of ambiguous markets has been essential to recent developments in economic sociology. Cultural industries provide a valuable testing ground for its perspective of socially influenced market behavior. This article emphasizes the uncertainty of cultural markets and thus the relevance of social valuation in disseminating new releases. I hypothesize that recipients of culture simplify cultural choice by reacting to easily attainable signals of product value. Mechanisms of valuation include product familiarity, peer influence, and expert critique. Focusing on an exemplary cultural market, I confront theoretical implications with data from the German book industry (2001–2006). Panel and cross-section regressions show that, alongside well-defined market segments, separate mechanisms guide consumer behavior. For incumbents’ offerings, prior recognition stabilizes cultural choice and reinforces differences in market success. In the highly ambiguous newcomer segment, imitation and negative media steer audience attention, at times leading to unsatisfactory aggregate outcomes, i.e. ‘bad’ bestsellers.
|Date of creation:||2015|
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