Social media and web-based environments provide important new channels for the dissemination of messages and roles for central individuals in networks to provide conduits for marketplace information. The purpose of this research is to test individuals' propensity to transfer market mavenism – a characteristic associated with a group of highly knowledgeable consumers who are disseminators of generalized marketplace information – from physical to virtual world environments and the features of these ‘cyber-mavens.’ We posit that cyber-mavens are more likely to be immersed in flow experiences – the feeling of total immersion and deep involvement in human–computer mediated interactions – and to trial new products in virtual worlds. We also test hypotheses regarding a number of other demographic features and individual characteristics of likely mavens. The analysis is based on ANOVA, with post-hoc tests for group comparison. Our findings indicate that while ‘real-life’ market mavenism remains most dominant, mavens are able to extend this capacity into virtual worlds, suggesting the transferability of the maven concept across major channels. We also find that cyber-mavens have a greater propensity to experience ‘flow’ in virtual worlds than non-mavens and are more likely to trial new products in order to satisfy hedonist motives for personal interest in new products. Further, our findings indicate that cyber-mavens can be male or female, are well-educated, and slightly older consumers, are keen users of virtual worlds and have knowledge of other mavens. This study represents one of the first attempts to better understand how consumer behavior might differ in virtual world channels, and, by so doing, better inform our understanding of an important group of consumers for digital goods, namely cyber-mavens.
|Title of host publication
|American Marketing Association Summer Educators’ Conference
|Published - Oct 2014