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The Sales Effect of Word of Mouth: A Model for Creative Goods and Estimates for Novels

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  • Jonathan Beck

Abstract

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. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG - (Die Verkaufswirkung von Mundpropaganda: ein Modell für kreative Produkte und Schätzwerte für Romane) Meistens erreichen die wöchentlichen Verkäufe von kreativen Produkten wie Musikalben, Kinofilmen oder Büchern kurz nach Veröffentlichung ihren Höhepunkt und nehmen dann schnell ab. In einigen Fällen jedoch zeigen sie einen buckelartigen Verlauf mit zunächst ansteigenden Verkäufen. Eine populäre Erklärung für dieses Phänomen beruht auf der Existenz von Mundpropaganda unter heterogenen Käufern, doch bisherige Studien gehen typischerweise von der Annahme homogener Käufer aus oder vernachlässigen Mundpropaganda gänzlich. Dieses Papier betrachtet ein Modell der Verbreitung neuer Produkte unter heterogenen Käufern, welches eine Quantifizierung der Verkaufswirkung von Mundpropaganda ermöglicht. Das Modell beinhaltet Weihnachtsverkäufe als Spezialfall. Alle Modellparameter haben eine intuitive Bedeutung. Ergebnisse einer Simulation zeigen, dass die Parameter empirisch geschätzt werden können, wenn die Daten einen hinreichend großen Teil des Verkaufszyklus eines Titels abdecken und nicht zu volatil sind. Das Modell wird auf Scannerdaten für vier exemplarische Romane angewendet.

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  • Jonathan Beck, 2006. "The Sales Effect of Word of Mouth: A Model for Creative Goods and Estimates for Novels," CIG Working Papers SP II 2006-16, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
  • Handle: RePEc:wzb:wzebiv:spii2006-16
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Schaffner, Florian, 2016. "Information transmission in high dimensional choice problems: The value of online ratings in the restaurant market," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145585, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Beck, Jonathan, 2008. "Diderot´s rule," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Competition and Innovation SP II 2008-13, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    3. Luca Aguzzoni & Elena Argentesi & Lorenzo Ciari & Tomaso Duso & Massimo Tognoni, 2016. "Ex post Merger Evaluation in the U.K. Retail Market for Books," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(1), pages 170-200, March.
    4. Gaffeo, Edoardo & Scorcu, Antonello E. & Vici, Laura, 2008. "Demand distribution dynamics in creative industries: The market for books in Italy," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 257-268, September.
    5. Duso, Tomaso & Gugler, Klaus & Yurtoglu, Burcin B., 2011. "How effective is European merger control?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, pages 980-1006.
    6. Edlira Shehu & Tim Prostka & Christina Schmidt-Stölting & Michel Clement & Eva Blömeke, 2014. "The influence of book advertising on sales in the German fiction book market," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 38(2), pages 109-130, May.
    7. John Ashworth & Bruno Heyndels & Kristien Werck, 2010. "Expert judgements and the demand for novels in Flanders," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 34(3), pages 197-218, August.
    8. Ohio University & Department of Economics & Hailey Hayeon Joo, 2009. "Social Learning and Optimal Advertising in the Motion Picture Industry," 2009 Meeting Papers 513, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Jason Potts & Stuart Cunningham & John Hartley & Paul Ormerod, 2008. "Social network markets: a new definition of the creative industries," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 32(3), pages 167-185, September.
    10. Khim Yong, Goh & Kai-Lung, Hui & I.P.L., Png, 2008. "Social Interaction, Observational Learning, and Privacy: the "Do Not Call" Registry," MPRA Paper 8225, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Jonathan Beck, 2007. "The sales effect of word of mouth: a model for creative goods and estimates for novels," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 31(1), pages 5-23, March.
    12. Christophe Van den Bulte & Yogesh V. Joshi, 2007. "New Product Diffusion with Influentials and Imitators," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(3), pages 400-421, 05-06.
    13. Fabrice Le Guel & Mohamed El Hedi Arouri & Fabrice Rochelandet, 2010. "L’entrelacement des pratiques culturelles et de l’usage des TIC : une analyse économique," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 194(3), pages 33-55.
    14. Fernández Blanco, Víctor & Prieto Rodríguez,Juan, 2009. "Análisis de los hábitos de lectura como una decisión económica/," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 27, pages 113-138, Abril.

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    Keywords

    new-product diffusion; word of mouth; creative industries;

    JEL classification:

    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • M3 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising

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