Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) is very important for consumer decision making; previous international product diffusion studies have investigated eWOM and cultural factors that influence consumers’ acceptance of new products, but they have not adequately compared the differences in these factors between the USA and China. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to compare the impact of eWOM on consumer choices in China and the USA. The authors addressed the following questions: What are the cross-cultural differences in consumers’ eWOM behavior between the USA and China: Which genres of Hollywood movies have better cross-culture predictability in terms of box office performance; and What factors affect the success of Hollywood movies in entering the Chinese market?
Real eWOM data were collected from two online movie review websites, IMDb.com (the USA) and Douban.com (China), from January 2010 to December 2015. In addition, box office revenue information was collected from BoxOfficeMojo.com. The authors used an independent sample t-test to check whether the differences in consumers’ eWOM behavior between China and the USA and different types of movie lead to cultural discount differences. Furthermore, a log-linear regression model is used to examine which factors influence the commercial success of new movies.
There are specific similarities and differences between the American and Chinese movie markets. First, the results show that American consumers are more engaged in online review systems and tend to submit extreme reviews, but Chinese consumers tend to submit moderate reviews on movies, and the eWOM variance there is smaller than in the USA. Second, genres are useful variables as indicators of movie content; the genres of comedy and drama are not popular in the Chinese market. Finally, eWOM variance has a positive impact on box office in China, but eWOM variance has no impact on the US box office. In addition, the interactive effect of the average rating and eWOM variance on sales is positively significant in China. Importantly, the one-star reviews have a negative impact on the Chinese box office, but it has no impact on US box office.
Understanding how cultural factors influence consumer eWOM communication will help managers to better apply this new marketing communication tool to create more aggressive and targeted promotional plans. Marketers may use eWOM behavior to better respond to and target consumers to overcome barriers to the selection of their products by consumers. Therefore, more effective management of eWOM can improve the acceptance of and preference for products in different cultural consumer groups.
This study expands the existing body of knowledge on eWOM and international marketing literature. Clearly, culture is an important determinant of eWOM’s impact on sales. In addition, it provides strategic direction and practical implications for eWOM communication management in cross-cultural settings.
The authors would like to express sincere appreciation to the editor and the anonymous referees for their valuable comments and suggestions, which helped improve the quality of the paper tremendously. All authors contributed equally to this manuscript.
Chiu, Y., Chen, K., Wang, J. and Hsu, Y. (2019), "The impact of online movie word-of-mouth on consumer choice: A comparison of American and Chinese consumers", International Marketing Review, Vol. 36 No. 6, pp. 996-1025. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-06-2018-0190Download as .RIS
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