Theme：New Technology Adoption and Alternative Sources of Information: Evidence from a Field Experiment in China
Speaker：Wanqing Zhang（University of Chicago）
Address：Room 712, Mingde Business Building
The diffusion of an innovation requires prospective customers to be made aware of its existence, and to appreciate the benefits they will derive from adopting it. For innovations that involve a new technology, prospective customers also need to learn its application and usage. Customers acquire this information through self-experimentation, from external sources including the innovating firm’s service and support, or through social interactions with peers and opinion leaders. In this paper, we compare the effectiveness of these alternative sources of information in the adoption of a new technology by business customers. In particular, we investigate whether mobile technology-based social media can facilitate the adoption of a new technology via the exchange of information between prospective customers. If it does, how effective is it compared with the traditional use of firm-initiated customized marketing service and support? We also examine whether opinion leadership can be leveraged to accelerate the adoption of a new technology in such an online environment. Empirically, we conduct a field experiment on the adoption of a new greener, less toxic nano-pesticide technology by farmers in China. We find the social interaction platform that includes the presence of an opinion leader is the most effective in promoting trial behavior in the initial stage of the diffusion process when customers face technological uncertainty. We also find the firm-initiated approach and the social media platform that includes opinion leadership are equally effective in achieving the highest overall trial and final adoption rates. In the absence of an opinion leader, mobile social media is less effective in terms of overall trial.
Keywords：New product diffusion, social media marketing, mobile marketing, Business-to-Business, field experiment
Wanqing Zhang is a postdoc researcher in the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. She received her Ph.D in Marketing from Purdue University in 2017. Before studying and working in the U.S., she attended the Chinese University of Hong Kong where she was awarded a B.B.A (Hons) and a M.Phil degree. Her research areas include development marketing, quantitative modeling, field experiments, service marketing, digital marketing and diffusion of innovations. Her recent work has focused on understanding how different information mechanisms can help reduce prospective customers’ uncertainties toward new technologies and change their decision-making processes in emerging markets. Her current ongoing projects include modeling individual choice behavior within social networks, understanding the effectiveness of referral programs in an online environment, and reconstruction of brand competitions from mobile phone location data. She is an ISBM Doctoral Dissertation Award Recipient in 2016.
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