Title: Just small talk? The impact of interpersonal interaction in virtual web communities on new-product adoption

Authors: Achim Botzenhardt; Daniel Heinrich; Colin Campbell

Addresses: Institute for Enterprise Systems (InES), University of Mannheim, L 15, 1-6, 68131 Mannheim, Germany ' Department of Services Management, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Schleinitzstrasse 23a, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany ' Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, College of Business Administration, Kent State University, P.O. Box 5190, Kent, Ohio 44242, USA

Abstract: While marketers have largely recognised website design and its value, interaction mechanisms are widely underexplored features of virtual communities. We argue that not only the presence of interpersonal interaction - but also its type - play key roles in how consumers experience virtual communities. In our study, we demonstrate a main effect of interpersonal interaction on relevant variables of consumers' willingness to adopt a new product introduced in the virtual community. Moreover, we analyse the role different actors can play. Our findings reveal the importance of company-representing experts in such virtual environments, shedding light on a new tool for marketers to further benefit from web communities.

Keywords: interpersonal interaction; virtual communities; online communities; web based communities; user interaction; expert interaction; consumer behaviour; product innovation; new product adoption; experimental study; willingness to adopt; internet marketing; new products.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2013.058586

International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, 2013 Vol.8 No.2, pp.86 - 101

Available online: 09 Jan 2014 *

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