2.2. Why eWOM
Hence, Gilly et al. [24
] expressed that, the relative expertise of the electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) beneficiary should likewise be thought of as important influencers. It remained previously recognized that as consumers acquired additional knowledge with products and services their dependence on WOM waned [25
]; however, higher purchaser mastery may make certain eWOM communications further easily reached. This can be ascribed to the degree of participation the beneficiary needs to precisely interpret the electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) message.
Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) is for the most part observed as beneficial in the prospect that it is efficiently reachable and available to every individual who can exploit the internet [26
]. Moreover, the internet provides an ideal mix of user demographics, which allows purchasers to reach a blend of conclusions that help them form their own thoughts about a product or service [27
These days’ consumers mostly depend on the advice and suggestions that their friends give about the products on social networks. Around 21% of consumers find the performance of the products, which have been reviewed by their peers on the social networking sites, as pretty good [29
To add more to the studies Reichelt et al. [30
] in his findings said that currently the craze of the internet is exponentially increasing among consumers and thus due to its manifold popularity consumers are exchanging and posting more and more product information on SNSs. Due to the extensive use of SNSs by consumers, large volumes of suggestions and information is available online with almost free access to anyone. The use of digital media has completely changed the perspective of buying and selling. These days just by few mouse clicks a consumer can study the reviews of a product by its old and present users and then make a decision to purchase or not. Thereby, seeing its vast interference and a major decisive factor in buying of the product, eWOM is at present counted as a crucial constituent of the consumer purchase decision-making process [31
] mentioned that information quality and information quantity [33
], which is available to consumers in the form of reviews, significantly influences consumers’ purchasing intentions. eWOM information helps in buying decisions of consumers. Further, Mehyar et al. [33
] examined how consumers’ purchasing intention toward products may vary depending on, credibility, and quantity, which would yield different behaviors in purchasing intentions. Thus, communication through eWOM is commonly familiar to assume an observable job in affecting and making consumer perspective and behavioral intentions [1
]. It has for quite some time been perceived to influence consumer decision making, and the assessments and recommendations of others have been believed to have a significant impact on purchase decisions [19
When people share information about a brand or product through social networking sites, then along with the awareness of the people, credibility also increases and this awareness and credibility influences them to change purchase intention towards a brand.
2.3. Factors Affecting eWOM Credibility and Purchase Intention
Banerjee, Dutta, and Dasgupta [13
] examined how the accessibility of wide and recent information, intermittent household earnings, and involvement of consuming the internet are the significant viewpoints impacting Indian consumers’ disposition towards online purchase, yet buyers worry over online safety. This is the main reason behind consumers not participating in online purchasing.
Customers who effectively have attachments with brands on SNSs are overwhelmingly the brands’ loyal consumers [35
], whose commitment shows a passion similar to a psychological and behavioral connection to the brand [36
Credibility was hence assumed as an intrinsic element or factor in word-of-mouth (WOM) messages from strong-tie sources [37
]. Researchers tested and reviewed different eWOM variables influence on consumers’ purchase intentions; among them the variables, information usefulness, information quality, information adoption, and information credibility are identified as prevalently tested variables. The effects of eWOM on consumers’ perception of credibility might be better explained by adding more dimensions of eWOM in social media found in other studies. These dimensions may include Review Consistency [31
], Recommendation Rating [38
] and Task Attraction [38
]. In the detailed analysis, Trust, Self-efficacy, Altruism, and Moral Obligation have been identified as relevant to customers that needs to give a special consideration. Farzin and Fattahi [40
] additionally analyzed other correlative factors that are aligned with motivational and psychological differences, and their attraction to technology, market Mavenism and Self-presenting.
Cheung et al. [41
] highlighted that if the receiver of eWOM benefits from the information and has no basis to doubt that information, it will be viewed as credible and the recommendation treated with equal credibility, while the restricting camp states that eWOM is spread by obscure individuals with obscure thought processes who can cover their actual personalities and post secretly [42
]. Additionally, positive eWOM is potentially spread by advertisers posing online as pleased customers in an attempt to strengthen brand statuses [43
]. However, the factors leading to the increased popularity of eWOM are yet locked in the chamber of secrets and are tough to encrypt; consumers might be rewarded for posting good and positive reviews of the product [17
SNS provides a medium and aides the exchange of ideas and opinions among a known group of friends as well as among unknown groups of people. Currently most of the famous and widely used SNS platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are keen on the implementation of a Real User Policy, that eradicates the cloud of ambiguity by revealing the true identities which further enhances the trustworthiness of SNS among its users. In addition to this, an SNS also promotes online friends to connect with their offline friends, thereby keeping relations lively and also empowering the SNS-based connections [44
]. These features of an SNS make it advantageous over other sources of information and has helped in reviving the opinion of source credibility which was once considered as the only legacy and heritage of offline WOM.
It has been studied and revealed in the study of consumer perceptions of online reviews by Lee and Ma [45
], that the greater the degree of interpersonal influence in a consumer the greater is the dependence of the consumer on the online eWOM as a more reliable source of collecting product information. The conclusions by Chu and Kim [46
] also confirm the findings that the susceptibility characteristic and group influence are directly proportional to each other, which in turn increase the authenticity of eWOM as it has a larger influential group available.
Earlier there was a concept that people not disclosing their identities were taken into fake consideration and their online reviews were not fully accepted. But the trend has changed as revealed by the study of [47
] that shows that consumers now have an increased level of trust in the online reviews posted by anonymous people rather than the reviews on radio, TV, magazines, or newspapers. According to Nieto et al. [49
], consumers show a higher level of faith in the online reviews posted by other consumers as compared to the reviews of the same product posted by the sellers or manufacturers of the product. Ultimately these trusts in online reviews have greater contribution in the purchase intentions of the consumer in buying a product [47
Potency or influence of a bond amongst various individuals of a social network is referred to as tie strength [51
]. The tie strength might be weak or strong [52
]. Pigg and Crank [53
] observed that strong tie strengths are among relatives, friends, or family members since they concern relations that are personal and are the wellspring of meaningful and emotional help to different individuals.
Usually, word-of-mouth (WOM) communications in the offline atmosphere happened amongst individuals who showed strong tie associations as between close friends or family members [12
]. WOM, in this case, was viewed as believable, truthful, relevant, and honest as the message was originating from reliable sources about their particular involvements with brands and products [54
According to Elaboration Likelihood Model [55
] and the Heuristic-Systematic Model [56
], involvement is viewed as an important factor. In the two models the higher the beneficiary’s contribution with an item or service, for example, the more weightage and significance one puts on the buying choice and the more intricate the psychological handling of the message contentions that will happen. It is indicated that if there is low involvement then beneficiary trust of the message content is less, in which case there is dependence on more reachable or heuristic/intuitive cues, for example, source qualities as an intermediary for credibility, bringing about appropriation/non-reception.
Hutter et al. [57
] further stated that active buyers, who associated with the brand, enhance the brand page view, which promotes more brand awareness. One of the important tasks of marketers is to build brand awareness because brands construct their online social outlines so as to appeal to their target market, to involve their target market as well as convert those market members into sales. Brand awareness is made by building up customer relationships and acquiring their trust in the brand’s products. Each brand makes its own marketing content program through which they measure their brand awareness on social media; such measures include brand mentions, search volume, blog shares and the most important of all is the social media reach [58
Over the range of recent decades, promoting approaches and theories have encountered variations, and exhibiting authorities these days base their practices on social drivers rather than standard measures for appealing to more purchasers or making a brand picture in the mind of customers.
A study on online retailing conducted by Mintel [29
] appealed that respondents concurred with the way that brands’ comments and consumer reviews regard to an item or a product helps them in overcoming their interests and stimulated them in making the online buying.
SNSs and social media permit marketers to impact straightforwardly their intended target group. Various researchers [60
] have investigated the comparative significance of the two media for the consumers however research is absent in the writing on the forerunners that assume a basic part in electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) behavior and its importance of research subsequent effect on the Brand image and purchase intention.
Researchers also indicated that trust is the inspiration of a person to follow up on or follow the information and guidance given by another individual [53
]. Trust has a fundamental role in inspiring individuals to exchange their judgment or perspectives about a brand or product [61
Self-efficacy involves an individual’s trust in one’s abilities [62
], and it involves individual arbitration with respect to one’s ability to execute and organize the game-plan needed for certain well-defined natures of presentations [64
], and significantly affects people’s motivating, feeling, behaving, thinking, and decision making [62
For deciding the purchase intention of the consumers [65
] brand equity and brand image are the two important variables that play a vital role. Brand Image embraces attributes and benefits related with a brand that make the brand unique and differentiate the firm’s offer from that of its opponents. Keller [66
] defined brand image benefits as “what consumers think the brand can do for them”, and defined brand image as the perception of buyers when they are exposed to a brand and is reflected by brand associations in their evoked set. Now purchase behavior of consumers has been altered, before making a purchase decision they frequently make inquiries about the brand quality. Thus, prior to settling on a purchase decision to get themselves the most suitable product for their consumption consumers tend to watch blogger reviews [67
]. Ansari et al. [11
] further examined that the virtual societies of brands on social media are producing purchaser involvement and trust towards brands. Consumers place their trust in the guidance of friends, as individual buyers are not expected to have any motivation to deceive them [41
]. Such sort of trust that is created through evidence and familiarity sharing by the customers about the particular brand helps the imminent purchasers in strengthening their interests with respect to the product and hence prompts purchase desire.
Gillian Laurent Muzellec [69
] discloses that numerous credibility contemplations can be organized into two general categories. The first category incorporates audience factors [46
], tie strength relationships [19
], receiver processing, motivation, involvement levels [56
], and ability [55
], however, another category contains message characteristics or message content [16
The purchase or buying decision [11
] by buyers is the decision-making procedure for an exchange of services or products being offered in the market. Researchers also defined that purchase intention additionally alludes [72
] to the procedure of setting a decision of purchase, during which the buyer reflects numerous circumstances and bases. Cheung and Thadani [73
] indicated that purchase intention of an individual is straightforwardly allied with the attitudes, behaviors and perceptions of the end user toward the service or product itself or even the retailer and seller.
The marketplace conveys a broad group of brands present nearby similar products with various qualities in order to appeal to customers. Since this is an innovative and technology-driven period, thus, social media is the platform for brands to demonstrate their contributions alongside the product information to save buyers valuable time and pull them towards the brand [44
An organization’s long-haul cash flow and future income can be affected by many factors like brand image (BI), a buyer’s willingness to follow through on premium costs, sustainable competitive advantage, stock prices, strategic decision making, and marketing practices [66
Ansari et al. [11
] further examined in her study that, propagation of brand and making it socially popular and contents of social media marketing are important components that affect the consumer purchase decision.
In entirety for High Involvement (HI), Trust (TR), Recommendation (RC), Message Content (MC) and its impact on eWOM credibility (EW), we hypothesize the following:
H1—High involvement with the SNSs has a positive and significant effect on eWOM credibility among customers.
H2—Trust on the SNSs has a positive and significant effect on eWOM credibility among customers.
H3—Recommendations of SNS members have a positive and significant effect on eWOM credibility among customers.
H4—Message content has a positive and significant effect on eWOM credibility among customers.
Where HI, TR, RC and MC are considered as independent factors while EW as a dependent factor.
To test the impact of eWOM credibility on the brand image and the purchase intentions of consumers, the accompanying hypotheses were proposed:
On the basis of presumed connections among the variables, as framed by the above formulated hypothesis, the conceptual structure of research is constructed in Figure 1