An increasing number of consumers rely on online reviews to make purchase decisions in today’s global service industry. In this article, we investigate the impact of power on a consumer’s willingness to spread word-of-mouth (WOM) by posting an online review. Drawing on self-enhancement theory, which suggests that an individual is motivated to spread WOM in order to boost his or her self-image, and the agentic versus communal theory of power, we argue that the impact of power is moderated by the valence of the customer’s service experience, and its congruity with that of other forum users. Results from three studies in hotel and restaurant contexts indicate that powerless consumers are more likely to post positive reviews when the forum consensus is also positive. Conversely, powerful consumers are more likely to post positive reviews when the overriding consensus is negative. Further, such results hold only for positive (vs. negative) service experiences. Managerially, our findings suggest that introducing power mechanisms such as influence rankings or helpful votes into online consumer forums may shape review posting behaviors. Service marketers and social media managers need to be aware that some customer segments are not inclined to post positive online reviews. As indicated by our findings, powerful consumers, such as those with high helpful ratings or elite reviewer status, are more likely to post positive reviews when the forum consensus is negative. Conversely, powerless consumers, such as those with low helpful ratings or junior reviewer status, might be more inclined to post positive reviews when the forum consensus is also positive. Based on our findings, we also discussed the theoretical contributions, limitations, and ideas for future research.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Information Systems
- Sociology and Political Science
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management