When studying the impact of online reviews on product sales, previous scholars have usually assumed that every review for a product has the same probability of being viewed by consumers. However, decision-making and information processing theories underline that the accessibility of information plays a role in consumer decision-making. We incorporate the notion of review visibility to study the relationship between online reviews and product sales, which is proxied by sales rank information, studying three different cases: (1) When every online review is assumed to have the same probability of being viewed; (2) when we assume that consumers sort online reviews by the most helpful mechanism; and (3) when we assume that consumers sort online reviews by the most recent mechanism. Review non-textual and textual variables are analyzed. The empirical analysis is conducted using a panel of 119 cosmetic products over a period of nine weeks. Using the system generalized method of moments (system GMM) method for dynamic models of panel data, our findings reveal that review variables influence product sales, but the magnitude, and even the direction of the effect, vary amongst visibility cases. Overall, the characteristics of the most helpful reviews have a higher impact on sales.
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