||In recent year, it’s very common that consumers search product information before shopping. Consumer feedbacks on the Internet are called electronic word of mouth (eWOM). Many previous studies have reported that eWOM has a great influence on consumer’s purchase decisions. Sometimes, people will compare one product with other competing products in eWOM. This type of WOM is called comparative WOM. Product comparison also happens very often in commercial advertising, called comparative advertising. Although quite a few studies have studied comparative advertising, the effect of comparative eWOM is not yet well-understood.|
In this study, we used the Elaboration Likelihood Model to examine the effect of comparative eWOM on purchase intention, and the mechanism causing the effect of comparative eWOM.
A field experiment was conducted. It is a three-factor experimental design. Independent variables are WOM type (comparative / non-comparative), writer’s professional level (high expertise / low expertise), and relationship strength (strong ties / weak ties). Mediating variables are the elaboration paths (central vs. peripheral route). Dependent variable is purchase decision after viewing the eWOM.
Our findings show that the comparative eWOM had a higher influence on consumers' purchase decisions than non-comparative eWOM, primarily through the peripheral route. The non-comparative e-WOM, however, tended to affect purchase decisions though the central route.