In Search of the “Meta-Maven”: An Examination of Market Maven Behavior across Real-Life, Web, and Virtual World Marketing Channels


  • The authors gratefully acknowledge the help and support of Mario Menti from GMI, Inc. in this project.

Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Stuart J. Barnes, Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, U.K.


Recently, a new set of channels for consumer and business interaction have emerged—three- dimensional “virtual” worlds. This study attempts to better understand the nature of market maven behavior (diffusers of general marketplace and shopping information) across three different channels—virtual worlds, the Web, and real-life—and to examine the extent to which market maven behavior is transferable across channel context (i.e., “fluid”) or channel dependent. Using data from two surveys (one in the virtual world “Second Life” and a follow-up Web survey for the same respondents), this paper explores differences and determinants of maven behavior. Employing partial least squares analysis, the findings indicate that market maven propensity is transferable across channels (i.e., high-scoring market mavens retain this across channel). However, while there may be the transferability of market maven behavior across channels, the findings demonstrate that maven propensity is influenced by the channel context. Consequently, individuals with high maven propensity tend to exhibit channels in which this behavior is more prominent. Therefore, market maven behavior might not only span general product categories, but also the channel itself (i.e., maven behavior remains fairly constant—or fluid—across channel). The findings also point to possible characteristics that may be used in the identification of market mavens: market mavens typically have greater cognizance of other mavens, are technology-savvy and individualistic, are of either gender and tend to be older and more intensive and experienced users of Web platforms and also intensive users of virtual worlds than those with low maven propensity. The findings of the study contribute to understanding market maven behavior, and provide an insight into the practices of mavens in a multichannel context, particularly in the case of the emerging channels that are virtual worlds.