Understanding Electronic Word of Behavior: Conceptualization of the Observable Digital Traces of Consumers’ Behaviors

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Abstract

The widespread digitization of consumers’ daily lives entails a plethora of digital traces of consumers’ behaviors. These traces can be turned into meaningful communicative and observable content by the services that possess the trace data. While extant research has empirically showed this to have a significant impact on consumer choices we argue that the phenomenon is undertheorized. In this theoretical paper, we conceptualize this kind of observable behavior-based information as ‘Electronic Word of Behavior’ (eWOB) and define it as “published accounts of behavior, based on the unobservable digital traces of consumers’ behaviors”. We characterize eWOB as an instantiation of Digital Trace Data and situate it within the established concepts of Social Interactions and Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM). By drawing on extant empirical research and constructs from Digital Trace Data, Social Interactions and eWOM, we propose a framework for eWOB that highlights its unique characteristics and design dimensions.
The widespread digitization of consumers’ daily lives entails a plethora of digital traces of consumers’ behaviors. These traces can be turned into meaningful communicative and observable content by the services that possess the trace data. While extant research has empirically showed this to have a significant impact on consumer choices we argue that the phenomenon is undertheorized. In this theoretical paper, we conceptualize this kind of observable behavior-based information as ‘Electronic Word of Behavior’ (eWOB) and define it as “published accounts of behavior, based on the unobservable digital traces of consumers’ behaviors”. We characterize eWOB as an instantiation of Digital Trace Data and situate it within the established concepts of Social Interactions and Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM). By drawing on extant empirical research and constructs from Digital Trace Data, Social Interactions and eWOM, we propose a framework for eWOB that highlights its unique characteristics and design dimensions.
LanguageEnglish
JournalElectronic Markets
Number of pages14
ISSN1019-6781
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 9. June 2018

Keywords

  • Electronic word of mouth (eWOM)
  • Electronic word of behavior (eWOB)
  • Social influence
  • Observational learning
  • Social interactions
  • Digital trace data

Cite this

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title = "Understanding Electronic Word of Behavior: Conceptualization of the Observable Digital Traces of Consumers’ Behaviors",
abstract = "The widespread digitization of consumers’ daily lives entails a plethora of digital traces of consumers’ behaviors. These traces can be turned into meaningful communicative and observable content by the services that possess the trace data. While extant research has empirically showed this to have a significant impact on consumer choices we argue that the phenomenon is undertheorized. In this theoretical paper, we conceptualize this kind of observable behavior-based information as ‘Electronic Word of Behavior’ (eWOB) and define it as “published accounts of behavior, based on the unobservable digital traces of consumers’ behaviors”. We characterize eWOB as an instantiation of Digital Trace Data and situate it within the established concepts of Social Interactions and Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM). By drawing on extant empirical research and constructs from Digital Trace Data, Social Interactions and eWOM, we propose a framework for eWOB that highlights its unique characteristics and design dimensions.",
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author = "Katrine Kunst and Ravi Vatrapu",
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