There is growing evidence that consumers are influenced by online product reviews when making a variety of purchase decisions. Firms are therefore tempted to monitor and manipulate online product reviews on the company's website or forum to influence consumer perceptions by anonymously posting positive reviews, hiding or deleting unfavorable reviews, or offering rewards to consumers who post favorable reviews. Our review of the literature has revealed a surprising shortage of work directed at the development of an integrative theoretical framework or rigorous empirical studies on the effectiveness and the exact impact of such activities on the payoffs to various parties. This study fills a void in the online marketing and information manipulation literature by studying consumers' suspicion, awareness and evaluation of specific manipulation tactics through in-depth interviews with 16 experienced online shoppers in China. We adopt a grounded theory approach to analyze the qualitative data and end up with a series of research propositions (research framework) for further testing and verification. The findings about consumers' views of online manipulations would provide valuable insights to industry associations and policy makers on whether and how to regulate online manipulation activities to ensure the healthy development of the e-commerce.
Peng, L., Cui, G., Zhuang, M., & Li, C. (2014). What do seller manipulations of online product reviews mean to consumers? (HKIBS Working Paper Series 070-1314). Retrieved from Lingnan University website: http://commons.ln.edu.hk/hkibswp/70