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Simpler online ratings formats increase consumer trust

Alena Kostyk (Department of Marketing, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA)
James M. Leonhardt (Department of Managerial Sciences, The University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, Nevada, USA)
Mihai Niculescu (Department of Marketing, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA)

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing

ISSN: 2040-7122

Article publication date: 12 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Online customer ratings are ubiquitous in e-commerce. However, in presenting these ratings to consumers, e-commerce websites utilize different formats. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of customer ratings formats on consumer trust and processing fluency.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on the latest behavioral research, two empirical experimental studies test whether the format of online customer ratings affects consumer trust and processing fluency.

Findings

The studies offer converging evidence that a simpler ratings format (i.e. mean format) elicits higher processing fluency and, in turn, higher consumer trust than does a more complex ratings format (i.e. distribution format).

Research limitations/implications

Future research could include additional factors that might influence the ease of online ratings processing for consumers. Investigation of possible moderators, such as need for cognition, numeracy and consumer involvement, may also be of value.

Practical implications

These findings have timely practical implications for the design and presentation of customer ratings to enhance e-commerce outcomes.

Originality/value

This paper extends the effects of processing fluency on consumer trust to the increasingly important context of e-commerce. In doing so, it highlights important interactions between the evolving information environment and consumer judgment. The key takeaway for managers is that simpler online customer ratings formats help to enhance consumer trust.

Keywords

Citation

Kostyk, A., Leonhardt, J.M. and Niculescu, M. (2017), "Simpler online ratings formats increase consumer trust", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 131-141. https://doi.org/10.1108/JRIM-06-2016-0062

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited