Helpfulness of online product reviews as seen by consumers: Source and content features

Mengxiang Li, Liqiang Huang, Chuan Hoo Tan, Kwok Kee Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

269 Citations (Scopus)


Online product reviews are important determinants of consumers' purchase decision. Although prior research has articulated various benefits of online product reviews, there are few investigations into whether or not they are perceived as helpful by consumers. Product review helpfulness is conceptualized as a second-order formative construct, which is manifested by perceived source credibility, perceived content diagnosticity, and perceived vicarious expression of the product review. In this study, we conduct a laboratory experiment to investigate product review helpfulness as well as its corresponding antecedents from the product review feature perspective (i.e., source- and content-based review features). Findings from the study are threefold. First, the results of the data analysis support the theoretical conceptualization of product review helpfulness as a formative construct. Second, the results support the notion that the source- and content-based review features have direct impact on product review helpfulness. Consumers perceive customer-written product reviews as more helpful than those written by experts; they also perceive a concrete review as more helpful than an abstract review. Third, we find an interaction effect of the source- and content-based features of product reviews on review helpfulness. A customer-written product review with a low level of content abstractness yields the highest perceived review helpfulness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-136
Number of pages36
JournalInternational Journal of Electronic Commerce
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics

User-Defined Keywords

  • Co-creation
  • Content-based review feature
  • Online reviews
  • Product reviews
  • Source-based review feature


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