Current Issue Summary
March 2023 (Vol. 63, Issue 1)
Do Customer Ratings Influence Consumers Who Already Experienced a Product? How Memory Reconstruction and Conformity Can Reshape Product Evaluations and Perceptions
In this study, Jonas Colliander and Micael Dahlen (both at Stockholm School of Economics) and Helge Thorbjørnsen (Norwegian School of Economics) explore how reading online customer reviews (OCRs) after using a product or service can change a consumer’s perceptions and satisfaction with the experience. Drawing from theories of memory reconstruction (the memory of an event is different each time it is recalled) and conformity effects, the researchers conducted two experiments in Sweden. In the pilot portion , participants sampled a new brand of chocolate bar. Then, during the main study, participants were asked to watch a film that had just arrived in cinemas (the latest Halloween). Both experiments were divided into three groups. Group 1 was subjected to negative OCRs immediately after the product experience and before evaluating it themselves. Group 2 was the opposite. They received a positive OCR exposure pre-dating the product experience. Lastly, Group 3 evaluated their product experience but were not subjected to OCRs. “The findings reflect a desire to maintain a correct representation of reality in which people use others’ ratings as an accuracy heuristic,” the authors write.
- “Consumers’ subjective experiences of products and events are altered when they see other people’s ratings of those same products or events.
- “Consumers’ experiences reflect other people’s ratings when those ratings are viewed postexperience.
- “Consumers’ postexperience satisfaction is an important driver of subsequent behavior.
- “Managers may find it useful to communicate positive ratings not only to prospective customers but also to past customers in the expectation that such information may influence their memories of an experience.”