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Do salespeople’s online profile pictures predict the number of online reviews? Effect of a babyface

Alexis Yim (Davis College of Business and Economics, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, USA)
Bradley Price (John Chambers College of Business and Economics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA)
Raj Agnihotri (Ivy College of Business, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA)
Annie Peng Cui (John Chambers College of Business and Economics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 19 December 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the impact of a salesperson’s babyface in his/her profile picture on the number of online reviews the salesperson receives. In addition to testing the direct relationship, this study explores the moderating roles of salesperson gender and consumer involvement.

Design/methodology/approach

Responding to the call for field-based consumer research, the authors test their theory using an experimental design and a field study. Study 1 employs an experimental design in high and low involvement service settings to test the effect of a babyface on consumers’ intention to write online reviews. Study 2 uses field data, utilising real estate salespeople’s online profile pictures to test the effect of salespeople’s babyface on the number of online reviews they receive. It does so by using an artificial intelligence facial recognition application interface.

Findings

A salesperson’s babyface results in fewer online reviews in situations in which consumers are highly involved in the purchase process. By contrast, a salesperson’s babyface engenders more online reviews when consumers purchase low involvement services. The adverse effect of a babyface on the number of online reviews, however, attenuates when a salesperson is female.

Research limitations/implications

Limited information about salespeople, a skewed number of online reviews and blurry online profile pictures from a real-world data set constitute the study’s limitations.

Practical implications

When consumers are highly involved in the purchase process, salespeople should appear mature in their online profile photos to engender more online reviews. However, salespeople providing low involvement services should opt for online profile pictures reflecting babyish facial features to generate more online reviews.

Originality/value

Research has shown that salespeople’s physical appearance plays an important role in consumers’ perceptions of salespeople and their performance. Although abundant research and practice have shown the importance of online reviews, less is known about how online profile pictures affect online reviews. Thus, building on well-studied cases of an overgeneralization effect, this work examines the extent to which salespeople’s babyface features in their online profile picture affects the number of online reviews received in a real-world setting.

Keywords

Citation

Yim, A., Price, B., Agnihotri, R. and Cui, A.P. (2022), "Do salespeople’s online profile pictures predict the number of online reviews? Effect of a babyface", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-03-2022-0173

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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