Using the Web, consumers not only find product characteristics from manufacturers and sellers; they can also exchange opinions with other third parties. Learning about such “experience attributes” builds confidence in purchasing decisions and establishes trust between parties in transactions. However, little is known about the search process for these experience attributes. In the current study, 65 participants researched a product, reporting its characteristics as well as salient experience attributes. By analyzing their search diaries and questionnaire responses, patterns for finding product characteristics versus experience attributes were compared. Precision on task was the same, however, product characteristics searches were likely to originate at search engines. Seller-dominated sites were favored over independent sites in searches for product characteristics, while the opposite was true for experience attributes. Finally, searches for experience attributes were not as broad or deep as those for product characteristics, suggesting that consumers focus their attention on fewer sources.
Otterbacher, Jahna, "Searching for Product Experience Attributes in Online Information Sources" (2008). ICIS 2008 Proceedings. 207.