Increasingly, consumers interact through the Internet to share their knowledge, experiences, and opinions. Consequently, ‘word-of-mouse’ has become a significant market force that influences consumer decision-making. On the basis of extensive quantitative and qualitative research, the authors sketch how consumers make use of virtual communities as social and information networks, and how this affects their decision-making processes. We present three studies that address (i) determinants and effects of virtual community influence on the consumer decision process; (ii) virtual community participation patterns; and (iii) discussion practices of the most active community members. Key implications for managers, marketers, and market researchers are discussed.

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Keywords consumer decision process, interpersonal influence, marketing, netnography, virtual communities of consumption, virtual community members, virtual community participation, word-of-mouth
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Decision Support Systems
de Valck, K, van Bruggen, G.H, & Wierenga, B. (2009). Virtual communities: A marketing perspective. Decision Support Systems, 47(3), 185–203. doi:10.1016/j.dss.2009.02.008