The experts and the crowd: The interplay between qualified rankings and consumer ratings


About the Research

In a world where consumers have the power to influence the performance of producers and feel entitled to question the judgments of professional critics, an interesting question arises as to the extent to which amateur evaluators will retain their original role of opinion-takers vis-à-vis the evaluations provided by professional critics. To what extent should we expect the evaluations provided by consumers to conform to those provided by professional critics? And are all consumers equally subject to such conformity pressure? To examine these questions, we exploit a fortuitous partnership between Michelin, the editor of the most prestigious restaurant guide, and TripAdvisor, a prominent aggregator of consumer ratings for the restaurant industry. As a result of this partnership, the TripAdvisor pages of restaurants evaluated by the Michelin Guide were updated with a Michelin badge under the restaurant name, showing the restaurant’s distinction in the guide. This change likely increased the salience of the expert evaluator’s opinion in the eyes of consumers without any change on the side of producers. Using a difference-in-differences approach, and relying on semantic similarity and topic modeling, we examine changes in the reviews posted on TripAdvisor before and after the appearance of the Michelin badge relative to changes in the reviews posted on Yelp, a competing review platform that was not affected by the partnership. Our results reveal that amateurs evaluators significantly changed their reviewing style when expert evaluations became more salient. The change was reflected in both the form and substance of their online evaluations.

About Saverio Favaron

Saverio D. Favaron is an Assistant Professor of Strategy at SKEMA Business School. His main research interests are about organizational responses to processes of social evaluation. In particular, in his current work he studies how evaluations in the form of ratings and rankings affect and inform firms’ strategic decisions and how organizations react to evaluations by multiple intermediaries. From the empirical standpoint, his research centers on creative and cultural industries, with a particular focus on fine-dining.

Date: Thursday 14 March, 2024

Time: 12:00-13:30 CET

Venue: Training Room (Zoom link provided to registered attendees)

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