Internet forums as influential sources of consumer information

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Abstract

We report the results of an experiment in which consumers were instructed to gather online information about one of five specific product topics by accessing either online discussions (i.e., Internet forums or bulletin boards) or marketer-generated online information (i.e., corporate webpages). At the end of a 12-week period, the consumers who gathered information from online discussions reported greater interest in the product topic than did those consumers who acquired information from the marketer-generated sources. We discuss the study's implications for better understanding word-of-mouth communication and for developing more successful consumer websites. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and Direct Marketing Educational Foundation, Inc.

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