This research aims to further our understanding about the influence of eWOM communication on consumers' decision-making process and its effects on the development of aesthetic product attitudes in an online social context. The growing number of studies that explore the influence of online WOM information on consumer decision-making still presents a lack of understanding in specific consumption contexts.This requires further theoretical development on the modality in which eWOM communication retrieved from social platforms alters the decision-processes in emotionally rich consumption contexts. Accordingly, given aesthetic product typology's recent market trends, and art in particular, which saw a shift from predominantly offline consumption towards online mediated channels, fine art has been chosen as the subject of the current study as the prototypical example of an aesthetic good.A mixed-method approach within a pragmatic philosophical stance was deemed most suitable to explore the research problem. The lack of research within the area called for an initial qualitative method of data collection in the form of in-depth interviews. A total of 28 in-depth interviews were carried out with different groups of stakeholders, such as commercial galleries, consumers, artists etc. This phase of the study helped pare down the number of variables to be included in the model and offered an indication of the experimental design requirements.The primary phrase of research consisted of a quantitative data collection in the form of an online administrated experiment. This stage sought to test the developed product attitude formation model, accounting for the influence of social eWOM information. A total of 426 responses were collected, and data were subjected to statistical analyses, specifically analyses of variance and SEM.The findings of this research highlight several contributions to theory, which advances our understanding of how consumers form product attitudes in an online social context, particularly attitudes towards aesthetic products.Firstly, this study found that the attitude a consumer develops about an aesthetic product in an information-rich context is not pre-determined by the product typology, but depends on consumer-specific factors. In this instance, eWOM information enters the process as cognitive input and induces a shift in product preferences that suppress the influence of affect that was previously considered of paramount importance.Secondly, the study highlights the importance of the purchase motivations of the consumer as, these act upon the extent of influence that eWOM information has on product attitude. Thirdly, the study identified the specific dimensions of eWOM that exhibit a differential impact upon product attitude development. Fourthly, a new theoretical model that accounts for the aesthetic product attitude formation process was developed and defined by the variables that exert an influence on the process in an online social context.The results of this study provide several managerial recommendations that help inform marketing practice, given the pervasive adoption of social media for following and purchasing aesthetic products.
|Date of Award||16 May 2018|
- University Of Strathclyde
|Supervisor||Alan Wilson (Supervisor) & Andrea Tonner (Supervisor)|