We study the impact of product and platform level sampling on customer purchases at an online video course platform. As with other experience goods, customers of online courses face a considerable amount of quality uncertainty. Using panel data from a large online course provider, we establish that both product level samples (course previews) and platform level samples (free courses) positively influence purchase decisions. However, they act in different ways. Product level samples provide direct information about the focal product, and therefore have a more immediate effect, while platform level samples take time to affect purchases through an accumulation of goodwill. We also find complementarities between these two strategies. Platform level sampling increases the effectiveness of product level sampling in motivating course purchases. Including both sampling strategies in the same context helps us develop a more holistic understanding of the impact of sampling on customer purchase behavior.
Zhang, Xi; Mantena, Ravi; Liu, Xiaopei; and Wang, Weiguang, "Impact of Product and Platform Level Sampling on the Sale of Online Video Courses" (2022). PACIS 2022 Proceedings. 201.
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