Given the pertinent influence of online product reviews on consumer purchase-making, firms try to be more proactive in leveraging their influence. One of the ways is to offer free product samples to consumers to solicit their product reviews, and include them with disclosure into the existing pool of organic reviews with the hope to stimulate sales. However, it is not clear whether this form of sponsored product reviews is indeed beneficial to sales, considering that they may introduce non-trivial influence on the generation of organic reviews. Based on data from a leading e-commerce platform in China, we find that sponsored product sampling reviews can promote product sales, but they also reduced the production of organic reviews for the product concerned. Still, the net effect on sales remains positive, suggesting that it is viable for e-tailers to take advantage of this form of sponsored reviews. Furthermore, a scenario-based experiment is conducted to unveil how the nature of product sampling reviews affects consumers’ brand quality perception and perceived fairness, which in turn lead to the outcomes investigated and offer future research directions to better harness their power.
Lu, Xianghua; Phang, Chee Wei; Ba, Sulin; and Yao, Xinlin, "Effects of Featuring Product Sampling Review on E-Tailer Websites" (2023). JAIS Preprints (Forthcoming). 106.
Available at: https://aisel.aisnet.org/jais_preprints/106