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Impact of product customization level on consumer's word-of-mouth behaviors and contents: a field study

Xiaolun Wang (College of Economics and Management, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Nanjing, China)
Xiaofeng Yu (School of Business, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China)
Fan Feng (School of Business, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China)
Peijian Song (School of Business, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 28 November 2022




Customization, a marketing strategy through providing personalized products, might be a new solution to motivate consumer feedbacks in electronic commerce (e-commerce) websites. Taking the dual-value of customization (emotional involvement and uniqueness expression) as the theoretical basis, this study aims to investigate the impact of customization on consumer's word-of-mouth (WOM) behaviors and contents by motivating: (1) more, (2) faster, (3) positive at first and then negative, (4) longer and (5) more helpful WOMs.


A field study was conducted with multi-sourced data: customer order data from a Chinese retailer and WOM data from The two datasets were matched to filter out 463 online reviews among 6,892 customers who placed customized orders. Heckman's two-stage model, logistic regression, Ordinary least squares regression, Tobit regression, analysis of covariance and Lind–Mehlum U Test were used in the data analysis.


This study has found that (1) customization level motivates WOM behaviors including WOM posting and WOM speed, (2) an inverted U-shaped relationship exists between customization level and consumer rating and (3) customization level has a significantly positive impact on WOM helpfulness but not on WOM length.


This study advances theoretical development in the area of WOM motivators by proposing a new product-centric approach, customization, to stimulate voluntary WOMs. Empirical field research that analyzes consumer's real responses to customization is in scarcity. The dual-value of customized products is proposed as the underlying mechanism to explain the impact of customization level on consumer's WOM behaviors/contents. An interesting inverted U-shaped relationship is found between customization level and customer rating. This research provides nuanced practical guidance for websites, companies and consumers.



This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No: 71802108 and 71922012) and Research Start-up Funds from NUAA.


Wang, X., Yu, X., Feng, F. and Song, P. (2022), "Impact of product customization level on consumer's word-of-mouth behaviors and contents: a field study", Information Technology & People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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