Complicating or simplifying? Investigating the mixed impacts of online product information on consumers’ purchase decisions

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

4 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-287
Number of pages25
Journal / PublicationInternet Research
Issue number1
Online published28 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Purpose: Prior literature indicates conflicting effects of online product information, which may complicate or simplify consumer purchase decisions. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate how different online product information (i.e. the choice set size and the popularity information and its presentation) affect consumers’ decision making and the related market outcomes. 
Design/methodology/approach: This research relies on information-processing theories and social learning theory. By stepwise conducting two 2×2 within-subject factorial design experiments, this research examines the effects of the choice set size, product popularity information and product presentation on consumers’ decision making and the aggregated market outcomes. 
Findings: The results show that product popularity information led consumers to either simplify or complicate their decision strategy, depending on the size of the choice sets. Additionally, presenting products by their popularity in descending order resulted in consumers making decisions with a larger decision bias. The results also show that the presence of product popularity was more likely to forge a “superstar” structure in a large market. 
Practical implications: The research suggests that e-retailers and e-marketplace operators should carefully utilize product popularity information. Multiple mechanisms that shape different shopping environments with different orders are necessary to create a long-tailed market structure. 
Originality/value: This study found the mixed effects of product popularity information when it is presented in different environments (i.e. the large/small choice set and the sorted/randomized product presentation). The overuse of popularity information may induce consumers’ decision bias.

Research Area(s)

  • Cognitive effort, Decision bias, Information presentation, Market outcomes, Social learning

Bibliographic Note

Information for this record is supplemented by the author(s) concerned.