User-generated content (UGC), e.g. YouTube videos on social media, is all around us. These UGCs are primarily demonstrational and/or informational in their execution format. However, viewers could easily misclassify the UGCs and that may be detrimental to the focal product in the UGC. This study aims to investigate this phenomenon.
The study uses an online survey (N = 459). The respondents were randomly exposed to one of the two UGCs – informational or demonstrational – and then responded to questions measuring their attribution and their purchase intention towards the focal product in the UGC.
Results indicate that about 20% of the respondents misclassified the type of UGC. Further, UGC characteristics such as vicarious experience, transparency and connectedness significantly enhance purchase intention, especially for demonstrational videos; demonstrational UGC, when correctly perceived yield the most favorable results; and misclassification does suppress these relationships.
This study contributes to the theory and practice by linking the viewer evaluation of UGC on various evaluative dimensions (i.e. vicarious experience, connectedness, transparency and perceived risk), purchase intention towards the focal product in the UGC and correct or incorrect classification of the UGC format (demonstrational or informational). This study adds to the knowledge base about UGC by highlighting some of the pitfalls when viewers misclassify the UGC format and emphasizes the importance of a match between the content of the UGC and the perceptions and expectations associated with the medium on which it is uploaded. Like any other research, this study too has its limitations. It has only looked at a few possible variables that would predict the purchase intention in the context of the complex and rich phenomenon of UGC. Future studies should look at other sources of misclassification.
Given the ubiquitous nature of social media and their role in consumer decision-making, the findings of this study have serious practical implications. The results of the study highlight steps to be taken by both creators and marketers to improve effectiveness of UGCs.
While this study does not focus on the social aspects of UGCs, it is not difficult to imagine the phenomenon of UGC misclassification, either as a mistake or deliberately induced and its social implications. Fake news seems to be not uncommon.
Even though the impact of consumer-to-consumer information exchange and UGC on consumers’ brand attitude and purchase intention is well recognized, there is limited research on this topic. Further, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to explicitly examine the concept of misclassification and corresponding issues in the context of UGCs.
Rajamma, R.K., Paswan, A. and Spears, N. (2019), "User-generated content (UGC) misclassification and its effects", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 125-138. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-08-2018-2819Download as .RIS
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