Customers often learn from opinion leaders through a social learning process before making decisions. Despite many studies on social learning, the role of individual characteristics (e.g., customer expertise) in the social learning process is not clear. In this study, we examine the moderating role of customer expertise (i.e. refers to the extent to which an individual perceives himself/ herself to be knowledgeable, competent, trained, and experienced) on the relationship between opinion leaders’ behaviour (i.e., rating behaviour and purchase behaviour) and customer decision (i.e., customer purchase decision and customer review decision). Based on information conformity and social learning theory, we develop four hypotheses to examine the moderation roles of customer expertise. By analysing large-scale data collected from a social commerce site, our study indicates that customer expertise negatively moderates the relationship between opinion leaders’ behaviour and customers’ purchase behaviour in pre-purchase evaluation but positively moderates the relationship between opinion leaders’ behaviour and customer review decision in post-purchase evaluation. Accordingly, our study contributes to the existing literature and theories by (1) explaining how opinion leaders influence customers’ decisions in both pre-purchase evaluation and post-purchase evaluation and (2) identifying moderating effects of customer expertise in the product evaluation process.
Liu, Libo; Indulska, Marta; and Mirkovski, Kristijan, "DO CUSTOMERS ALWAYS RELY ON OPINION LEADERS’ BEHAVIOR TO MAKE DECISIONS? THE MODERATING ROLE OF CUSTOMER EXPERTISE" (2020). Research-in-Progress Papers. 63.