Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Crowd-Driven Competitive Intelligence: Understanding the Relationship Between Local Market Competition and Online Rating Distributions

By: Dominik Gutt (Paderborn University); Philipp Herrmann (Consultant); Mohammad S. Rahman (Purdue University)
Abstract: In this paper, we analyze how changes in local market structure affect the properties of a market’s mean rating distribution. To this end, we combine demographic, socioeconomic, and Yelp restaurant review data for 372 isolated markets in the United States. Our empirical estimates demonstrate that an increase in overall competition – measured as total number of businesses in a market – leads to a broader range and to a decrease in the average of a market’s mean rating distribution. The implication is that a larger market has proportionately more lower rated restaurants, whereas higher rated restaurants have relatively fewer comparable substitutes and face less competition in such a market. These effects are particularly pronounced when the analysis is limited to specific cuisine types where vertical differentiation is more natural or when we control for city-specific unobserved heterogeneity. Our findings highlight that practitioners and scholars using online mean ratings of businesses from disparate markets should account for the local market structure to judiciously analyze the relative market power of a business.
Keywords: Local Market Competition, Online Ratings, Online Offline Interplay, Geographic

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