Meyners, Jannik, Christian Barrot, Jan U. Becker and Jakob Goldenberg

The Role of Mere Closeness: How Geographic Proximity Affects Social Influence

Journal of Marketing, 81 (5): 66-49, (2017).

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1509/jm.16.0057

Abstract: Geographic proximity has become increasingly relevant due to the growing number of marketing services that use consumers’ geographic locations, thus increasing the importance of gaining insights from this information. In five studies (both field and experimental), the authors analyze the effect of geographic proximity on social influence and demonstrate that not only social proximity but also perceived homophily can trigger social influence. They find that this effect holds under alternative representations of geographic distance and is confirmed for a range of different services and even for physical goods. Furthermore, the authors show that geographic proximity has a relative effect because the social influence of a closer sender is stronger than that of a more distant sender, regardless of the absolute distances. They present managerially relevant conditions under which the influence of geographic proximity not only is comparable to other types of information such as age or gender but also provides sufficient informational value for customers to offset differences among alternatives (e.g., due to higher prices) in trade-off decisions.

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