Edited by Subhash C. Jain and David A. Griffith
Chapter 14: Understanding the Role of Culture in Online Groups
Goksel Yalcinkaya INTRODUCTION The availability of new communication tools has contributed to changes in how people interconnect and shape social groups. Specifically, the Internet is increasingly becoming a channel in which individuals exchange opinions about products and services. For marketers, such consumer exchanges through active communication present a new opportunity to strengthen their relationships with consumers. Moreover, growing numbers of researchers argue that a social setting plays an increasingly important role in forming consumer decision-making (e.g. Redmond, 2001). Because of the social meaning attached to product consumption in many instances, consumers tend to purchase a product to attain or reaffirm an identity in a particular social group (Cherrier and Murray, 2004; Zukin and Maguire, 2004). Over the years, firms have developed a number of ways to engage consumers in their marketing communication process not only as information receivers, but as information creators (e.g. Ebay.com, TripAdvisor.com, and Amazon.com). According to Forrester Research, over 25 per cent of firms offer their customers an opportunity to rate products or services and write reviews on their websites (Barton, 2006). Prior literature suggests that online recommendations influence individuals’ purchase decisions (Senecal and Nantel, 2004). Individual opinions on online groups (i.e. consisting of people who engage in computer-supported social interaction, Preece, 2000, p. 10), were found to create stronger interest from potential buyers than typical marketing messages on corporate web pages (Smith et al., 2005). Individuals typically evaluate other individuals’ opinions as more trustworthy than the same information from human firm-related experts (Senecal and Nantel, 2004)...
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