Project Title

A Symposium on Electronic Word-of-Mouth in China: Cultural and Linguistic Perspectives

Project Team (HSMC Staff) 

Dr Morgan YANG, Department of Marketing (PI)

Dr Haksin CHAN, Department of Marketing (Co-PI)

Dr XIE Tingting, Department of Marketing (Co-PI)

Other Collaborating Parties

South China Normal University

Project Period

1-1-2019 to 31-12-2019 (on-going)

Funding Amount (HKD)

306,000

Abstract

A recent report suggests that, in China, over 40 percent of goods sold online are counterfeits (Xinhua News, 2014). Yet, this has not deterred online shopping in China, with 467 million Chinese consumers spending $750 billion online in 2016—more than the US and UK combined (Statista, 2017). Arguably, a major factor sustaining consumer confidence in China and thus driving the country’s online economy is the dynamic and diverse electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) networks embedded in a myriad of social media and product review platforms. 

 

Not only is China’s 751 million online population massive—equivalent to that of America and Europe combined (Internet World Stats, 2017), but it represents a unique context germane to new theoretical insights into the culturally and linguistically based eWOM phenomena. First, much of the extant eWOM theory is based on research conducted in a Western cultural context (e.g., Chevalier and Mayzlin, 2006; Packard and Berger, 2017). Given their group orientation and emphasis on “face” (Yau, 1994), Chinese consumers may seek and share eWOM with very different social motives. Second, the distinct lexico-semantic features of the Chinese language should naturally create new issues and opportunities for eWOM research (Huang et al., 2015).  All together, the unique traits of the Chinese culture and language have, in all likelihood, given rise to more nuanced eWOM behaviors than extant theory portrays (Huang et al., 2017; Kasabov, 2016).

 

To advance theory and inform practice, we propose to organize a two-day symposium on eWOM in the Chinese context. The symposium will bring together leading scholars familiar with major Chinese eWOM forums (e.g., Dianping.com), online shopping sites (e.g., Taobao), or social media platforms (e.g., Weibo, WeChat). They will share, from different angles, cutting-edge research pertinent to the peculiarities of the eWOM environment in China. We believe this symposium will, on the one hand, bring inspiration to researchers and practitioners interested in gaining in-depth insights into the distinct eWOM behaviors of Chinese consumers. On the other hand, this symposium will foster collaboration between Mainland, Hong Kong, and overseas scholars in a dynamic and impactful field that has vast implications for business performance and consumer welfare.