Credibility in the Blogosphere: A Study of Measurement and Influence of Wine Blogs as an Information Source
Type of Degreedissertation
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The use of online sources for decision information continues to grow among wine consumers. One of these sources is the wine blog, a venue for user-generated content that simulates word-of-mouth (WOM ) communication. The growth and influence of wine blogs creates opportunities for wine marketers to use them as part of strategy development. To facilitate an understanding of wine blogs and their potential influence on consumers’ decisions, a conceptual model of the influence of wine blog credibility was proposed. Within this model, this dissertation examined the influence of the credibility of wine blogs on wine blog readers’ behavioral intentions (e.g., purchase), as mediated by trust and moderated by involvement. The appraisal of wine blog credibility was characterized as tri-dimensional – assessed by characteristics of site, message, and source. The purpose of this research was to develop credibility scales for wine blogs (site, message, and source) and test the influence of a wine blog’s credibility on wine consumers’ behavioral intentions. Phase 1 implemented online focus groups to gather characteristics of the wine blog that signal credibility to the reader. Centering resonance analysis was used to generate items for scale development. Phase 2 used online survey data to validate the proposed scales and test the influence of a wine blog’s credibility on a reader’s intentions as specified in the model. The research findings revealed that although all three credibility dimensions demonstrated a positive relationship and statistical significance with wine blog trust attitude, only source credibility indicated practical significance. In addition, the data supported the hypothesized influence of wine blog credibility on the intention to follow recommendations and to continue blog participation as mediated by trust. However, the findings indicated that source credibility was the main contributor to the proportion of variance in both intentions. Furthermore, the data did not fully support the central versus peripheral routes hypothesized according to the elaboration likelihood model (ELM). The hypothesized peripheral route of source assessment on trust was predictive for individuals with both levels of involvement and substantively more predictive than either of the other two dimensions (site assessment as peripheral route, message assessment as central route).