The authors examine the impact of virtual word-of-mouth (vWOM) communication on willingness to pay (WTP) for an innovation. A series of hypotheses are developed that link vWOM to the credibility of innovation information, perceived utilitarian value, and the perceived hedonic value of an innovation, which are in turn hypothesized to influence WTP. The authors test these hypotheses using data collected in Japan from 658 potential adopters of e-readers and from 565 potential adopters of smartphones. Findings indicate that, in both samples, vWOM is positively correlated with the perceived credibility of innovation information, which in turn is positively correlated with both perceived utilitarian value and perceived hedonic value. WTP is also positively correlated with an innovation's perceived utilitarian and perceived hedonic value. In addition, the path between vWOM and perceived hedonic value is positive and significant in both samples. However, the path between vWOM and perceived utilitarian value is positive and significant in the smartphone sample, but not in the e-reader sample. The empirical findings provide support for theoretical arguments that link WTP for complex consumer electronic products to consumer perceptions of utilitarian and hedonic value. The results also have important implications for the creation of vWOM strategies designed to reduce the price sensitivity of potential adopters.
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