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Does eWOM Affect Demand for Mobile Device Applications? John E. Timmerman The Citadel Ian Shepherd Abilene Christian University Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) is a powerful instrument that marketers can use to more effectively spread the message about their products. Reviewing and rating systems attached to product sites allow consumers to be able to convey their experiences with products and represent a form of eWOM. Understanding how eWOM affects consumer behavior can help marketers better calibrate their promotional activities. The focus of this paper is to assess the relationship between the ratings and reviews associated with Apple apps, as a case in point, and its number of downloads as a test case from which to speculate about the effectiveness of the rating and review system’s influence on consumption. INTRODUCTION “There’s an app for that” is a very simple, yet profound statement that reflects the trend of technological innovation in the 21st century. Whether it’s learning to cook a culinary masterpiece, checking movie times, or just playing a game to pass the time while waiting in an airport terminal, each activity is increasingly being accomplished with the aid of smartphone applications licensed by Apple or its competitors. These apps can be an immense help in accomplishing tasks that come about in everyday life. According to About.com, there are approximately 1,500,000 apps that are live and available (a June 2015 number) to download from Apple (Costello, S., 2015). With all these different apps, the question for consumers is: How does one decide which apps are worth purchasing? For marketers, the question becomes: What marketing tools will most influence the consumer buying behavior so that the target audience will purchase a specific app? One answer to these questions lies in a form of electronic word of mouth, specifically the App Store product rating and reviewing system. Both marketers and consumers can benefit from this rapidly growing system. Consumers gain insights and opinions from fellow users regarding the perceived value of an app. When properly harnessed, this community can give marketers an inexpensive form of viral marketing to influence the consumer buying behavior as it relates to app purchasing decisions. ELECTRONIC WORD OF MOUTH The notion that buyer behavior is influenced by word of mouth is not a new idea (Brown and Reingen, 1987). What is new, however, is word of mouth’s expanding role on the Internet. Dellarocas (2003) put it best when he stated that, “word of mouth is being given new significance by the unique Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 10(3) 2016 9
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