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The Weight of Consumer Preference and Peer Influence in Trying New Products

Study by Asper Assistant Professor Published in Journal of Marketing Research

January 16, 2023 — 

Asper Assistant Professor Dr. Hee Mok Park and co-authors Dr. Tae-Hyung Pyo Dr. Jae Young Lee examine the social contagion phenomenon through the lenses of consumer preference and peer influence when it comes to the willingness of trying new experience products. Their study entitled “The Effects of Consumer Preference and Peer Influence on Trial of an Experience Good” was published in the Journal of Marketing Research (JMR), a FT50 journal published by the American Marketing Association addressing research in marketing and marketing research practice.

The study compares which peers are more influential depending on how well the product fits a consumer’s preference. The authors examined their influence on the awareness and evaluation stages and compared the influence of peers, either with similar preferences or not.

In their paper, Park and co-authors found that people who have similar tastes are more influential in getting someone to try a product that does not match their preferences, due to the ability to convince them to try it. They were also able to find that people who have very different tastes were more influential in getting someone to try a product that may fit one’s preferences, because they can enhance their awareness of this new product.

The study is based on analyzing consumer level data collected from Last.fm, a popular music social networking platform. The finding is widely applicable to other settings of consumer experiences, such as movies, games, and restaurants, where people choose whether to try something based solely on readily available information.

Marketing professionals in the online platform field can also benefit from the study by emphasizing products that fit better or worse with their personal tastes leveraging social contagion. Going further, those online platforms that use product recommendation algorithms can use the findings to further refine it.

“There are many studies that shows peers with similar tastes (toward product) can strongly impact on a consumer’s purchase behavior. Interestingly, this study provides a counter intuitive finding that dissimilar peers could have stronger influence than similar peers especially when the product fits well with the focal consumer’s preference,” said Park. “I think that our finding provides useful guidelines for marketing professionals in designing product recommendation systems within online social platforms.”

Park is an Assistant Professor and F. Ross Johnson Fellow in the Marketing Department at the Asper School of Business. His research expertise is in social network marketing and teaches Marketing Analytics course. This is his second FT50 published paper in 2022, as his co-authored paper entitled ‘Social and Spatiotemporal Impacts of Casino Jackpot Events’, was published in Marketing Science in January 2022.

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