Motivations for eWOM exchanges in an online community : self-development, problem solving support, relaxation

Labsomboonsiri, Saranya (2012) Motivations for eWOM exchanges in an online community : self-development, problem solving support, relaxation. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) has gained significant attention from academics and practitioners since it has become an important source of consumers’ product information, which can influence consumer purchase intentions (Cheung & Lee, 2012). eWOM exchanges exist in two types of online communities: online communities of practice and online communities of interest. A few prior studies in online communities of interest have examined members’ motivations for product knowledge exchange (Hung & Li, 2007; Ma & Agarwal, 2007). However, there is a lack of understanding of member motivations for exchanging social bonds and enjoyment in addition to exchanging knowledge pertaining to products in the community. It is important to have an initial comprehension of motivation as an antecedent of these three eWOM exchanges so as to be able to determine the driving factors that lead members to generate eWOM communication. Thus, the research problem "What are the driving factors for members to exchange eWOM in an online community?" was justified for investigation. The purpose of this study was to examine different member motivations for exchanging three types of eWOM. Resource exchange theory and theory on consumer motivation and behavior were applied to develop a conceptual framework for this study.

This study focused on an online beauty community since there is an increasing trend of consumers turning to online beauty resources so as to exchange useful beauty product information (SheSpot, 2011). As this study examined consumer motivation in an online beauty community, a web-based survey was the most effective and efficient way to gain responses from beauty community members and these members were appropriate samples from which to draw a conclusion about the whole population. Multiple regression analysis was used to test the relationships between member motivations and eWOM exchanges. It was found that members have different motivations for exchanging knowledge, social bonds, and enjoyment related to products: self-development, problem solving support, and relaxation, respectively.

This study makes three theoretical contributions. First, this study identifies the influence of self-development motivation on knowledge exchange in an online community of interest, just as this motivation has previously been found in online communities of practice. This study highlights that members of the two different types of online communities share similar goals of knowledge exchange, despite the two communities evincing different attributes (e.g., member characteristics and tasks’ objectives). Further, this study will assist researchers to understand other motivations identified by prior research in online communities of practice since such motivations may be applicable to online communities of interest. Second, this study offers a new perspective on member motivation for social bonding. This study indicates that in addition to social support from friends and family, consumers are motivated to build social bonds with members in an online community of interest since they are an important source of problem solving support in regard to products. Finally, this study extends the body of knowledge pertaining to member motivation for enjoyment exchange. This study provides a basis for researchers to understand that members in an online community of interest value experiential aspects of enjoyable consumption activities, and thus based on group norms, members have a mutual desire for relaxation from enjoyment exchange.

The major practical contribution is that this study provides an important guideline for marketing managers to develop different marketing strategies based on member motivations for exchanging three types of eWOM in an online community of interest, such as an online beauty community. This will potentially help marketing managers increase online traffic and revenue, and thus bring success to the community.

Although, this study contributes to the literature by highlighting three distinctive member motivations for eWOM exchanges in an online community of interest, there are some possible research limitations. First, this study was conducted in an online beauty community in Australia. Hence, further research should replicate this study in other industries and nations so as to give the findings greater generalisability. Next, online beauty community members are female skewed. Thus, future research should examine whether similar patterns of motivations would emerge in other online communities that tend to be populated by males (e.g., communities focused on football). Further, a web-based survey has its limitations in terms of self-selection and self-reporting (Bhatnagar & Ghose, 2004). Therefore, further studies should test the framework by employing different research methods in order to overcome these weaknesses.

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ID Code: 60159
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Luck, Edwina M. & Mathews, Shane W.
Keywords: electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM), resource exchange, member motivations, online communities
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 21 May 2013 06:30
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 04:39

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