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How young, technical consumers assess online WOM credibility

Kelley O'Reilly (Department of Marketing, Haworth College of Business, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA)
Sherry Marx (Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




Specifically focusing on one antecedent (information seeker's characteristics) for electronic word‐of‐mouth adoption and credibility assessments, the purpose of this paper is to attempt to shed light on consumer motivations for making and taking online recommendations, and how technically savvy consumers assess credibility online.


To investigate the role and influence of word‐of‐mouth (WOM) amongst technically savvy online consumers, purposeful sampling was used to limit participants to those who have made online purchases and who spend more than three hours a day on the internet. Using an adaptation of the grounded theory method, this study was triangulated via one face‐to‐face interview with each participant, member‐checking, analysis of online communications deemed “not credible” by the participants, and through relevant literature from marketing and information systems (IS).


Analysis shows that participants exhibit more of a “bricks‐to‐clicks” than a “clicks‐to‐bricks” purchasing cycle. In addition to relying on customer reviews online, participants accept online WOM to enhance their self‐worth, avoid risk, or enact negativity bias. Additionally, assessment of online WOM credibility is based on four factors: the polarity and quantity of posts, the logic and articulation of posts, the ability to find corroborating sources, and the previous experience of participants with particular sellers.


Previous research in WOM has not specifically explored how technically savvy consumers assess the credibility of online information and how these consumers may help to identify future trends for online customer exchanges. This qualitative study fills this gap. Conceptual framework and managerial implications are discussed.



O'Reilly, K. and Marx, S. (2011), "How young, technical consumers assess online WOM credibility", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 330-359.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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