Are fashion consumers like schooling fish? the effectiveness of popularity cues used in e-commerce

Publication Date: Thursday 26 January 2017
Author(s): Yu, S.; Hudders, L. & Cauberghe, V.
Appeared in: Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap


This study examines the effectiveness of popularity cues in online fashion retail. Despite the fact that popularity cues have shown to be effective, we expect that popularity cues can be detrimental for fashion brands in certain conditions. Two experimental studies were conducted to investigate the effectiveness of popularity cues used in online fashion stores, the potential moderating role of the price and the conspicuousness of the fashion product. The first study, an experimental study using a single-factor (popularity vs. no cue) between-subjects design, was conducted. The results revealed that consumers exhibited lower attitude toward the brand (Ab) for fashion products with a popularity cue vs. no cue. In the second study, a 2 (popularity vs. no cue) by 2 (conspicuous vs. non-conspicuous fashion product) by 3 (low vs. medium vs. high price) between-subjects factorial design was used. Upon running a series of moderated mediation analyses, the results revealed that the price level and the conspicuousness of the product moderate the indirect effect of popularity cues on Ab through perceived quality. Popularity cues had a positive effect on Ab for products with a high price, by increasing the perceived quality. In products with a medium price, this mediation effect was not significant. The popularity cue had a negative impact on Ab for products with a low price due to lower perceived quality. In the case of non-conspicuous products, the popularity cue led to higher perceived quality and, in turn, enhanced the Ab. However, popularity cues had no significant effect in the case of conspicuous products.

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