Sie sind auf Seite 1von 19

In Search of the Meta-Maven: An Examination of Market Maven Behavior across Real-Life, Web, and Virtual World Marketing Channels

Stuart J. Barnes
University of East Anglia

Andrew D. Pressey
Lancaster University

ABSTRACT
Recently, a new set of channels for consumer and business interaction have emergedthreedimensional virtual worlds. This study attempts to better understand the nature of market maven behavior (diffusers of general marketplace and shopping information) across three different channelsvirtual worlds, the Web, and real-lifeand to examine the extent to which market maven behavior is transferable across channel context (i.e., uid) or channel dependent. Using data from two surveys (one in the virtual world Second Life and a follow-up Web survey for the same respondents), this paper explores differences and determinants of maven behavior. Employing partial least squares analysis, the ndings indicate that market maven propensity is transferable across channels (i.e., high-scoring market mavens retain this across channel). However, while there may be the transferability of market maven behavior across channels, the ndings demonstrate that maven propensity is inuenced by the channel context. Consequently, individuals with high maven propensity tend to exhibit channels in which this behavior is more prominent. Therefore, market maven behavior might not only span general product categories, but also the channel itself (i.e., maven behavior remains fairly constantor uidacross channel). The ndings also point to possible characteristics that may be used in the identication of market mavens: market mavens typically have greater cognizance of other mavens, are technology-savvy and individualistic, are of either gender and tend to be older and more intensive and experienced users of Web platforms and also intensive users of virtual worlds than those with low maven propensity. The ndings of the study contribute to understanding market maven behavior, and provide an insight into the practices of mavens in a multichannel context, particularly in the case of the emerging channels that are virtual worlds. C 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The market maven concept, rst introduced by Feick and Price (1987), has attracted considerable scholarly interest. This group of consumers possesses generalized marketplace information and takes a keen interest in disseminating this to others, thus acting as a useful means of distributing product information often with greater credibility than many traditional marketing communications sources. The existence of the market maven has received widespread report in physical channels (i.e., real-world) (Abratt, Nel, & Nezer, 1995; Clark & Goldsmith, 2005; Feick & Price, 1987; Goldsmith, Clark, & Goldsmith, 2006; Walsh, Gwinner, & Swanson, 2004; Williams & Slama, 1995) as well as Web-based channels (Belch, Krentler, & Willis-Flurry, 2005). A notable absence from these studies is an understanding of market maven behavior in alternative communication channels. With the recent emergence and
Psychology & Marketing, Vol. 29(3): 167185 (March 2012) View this article online at wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/mar C 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. DOI: 10.1002/mar.20513 167

growth of social networking technologiesincluding the likes of MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, 47 Things, and many morea new set of channels for market maven behavior has emerged. One such channel is that of the virtual world (e.g., Second Life, developed by Linden Lab). Virtual worlds have been recognized as potentially one of the more important channels for marketing and marketplace information (Hemp, 2006), as testied by the large number of diverse key brands that have created a presence there, including Toyota, Reuters, Nokia, and Dell. Little is known, however, concerning how these emergent channels differ from existing channels and the factors that might contribute toward market maven behavior. For example, how do market mavens behave across multiple channelsincluding, for example, physical channels, the Web, and virtual

worldsand to what extent is market maven propensity retained by individuals across marketing channels (i.e., the degree to which individuals who have a high market maven propensity transfer this across channel setting)? If it were possible to establish an individuals market maven propensity that exists independent of channel, the implications for marketers would be signicant; such meta-mavens, if they can be identied, would provide enormous value to marketers across many channels in terms of disseminating positive word-of-mouth and the personal inuence they exert on other consumers. Based on the foregoing, the aim of this study is threefold: 1. To identify the extent to which market maven behavior is retained across physical, Web, and virtual world channels (i.e., whether a maven is always a maven regardless of channel context); 2. To identify the degree to which market maven behavior is constant across physical, Web, and virtual world marketing channels (i.e., whether mavenism is greatest in a particular channel); and 3. To examine the personal characteristics of market mavens across channel. This study is timely for a number of reasons. First, market mavens are an important group of consumers as they are effective at spreading word-of-mouth through their often extensive social networks making them a useful target for companies, particularly concerning new goods and services (Slama & Williams, 1990; Sundaram, Mitra, & Webster, 1998; Williams & Slama, 1995). Second, understanding the transferability of maven behavior across channels affords an understanding of the degree to which maven behavior might be universal (i.e., not channel dependent). Third, studies grounded in virtual worlds provide a context in which to examine established marketing tenets (Hemp, 2006) and to question assertions concerning consumer behavior based on real-world actions that may have to be reconsidered within the context of virtual worlds. As such, this study represents one of the rst attempts to understand marketing phenomena within the context of virtual worlds. Fourth, if enough studies of this sort can be done, perhaps broad generalizations can be derived that can be integrated into the evidence from psychology to deepen the understanding of consumer behavior in general. To this end, the authors hope that this study encourages others to embark on research in this area of investigation.

THE MARKET MAVEN CONCEPT


Dened by Feick and Price (1987) as Individuals who have information about many kinds of products, places to shop, and other facets of markets, and initiate discussions with consumers and respond to requests from consumers for market information (p. 85), the market maven construct has been a catalyst for

numerous conrmatory studies in the United States as well as in other country contexts (e.g., Slama & Williams, 1990; Abratt, Nel, & Nezer, 1995; Wiedmann, Walsh & Mitchell, 2001; Chelminski & Coulter, 2002, 2007; Steenkamp & Gielens, 2003; Goldsmith, Clark, & Goldsmith, 2006, Clark, Goldsmith, and Goldsmith, 2008; Ruvio & Shoham, 2007; Goodey & East, 2008). The involvement or interest demonstrated by the market maven is not restricted to a particular product category but rather is linked to general marketplace and shopping interest. As such, market mavens are considered to be distinct to other inuencers such as opinion leaders, innovators, and early adopters as their activities encompass general market knowledge and activities rather than relating to a particular product category (Feick & Price, 1987; Goldsmith, 1996). This is an important distinction as innovators and opinion leaders have limited function for broad-based retailers as researchers have generally been unable to . . . .generalize their ndings away from specic products or product categories (Abratt, Nel, & Nezer, 1995 p. 32). Inuencers use their networks and communities to spread word-of-mouth to reach greater numbers of social contacts than a typical consumer. In the case of mavens, their personal inuence is largely based on altruistic motivesfor the pleasure of sharing information and to reinforce their image in their community (Sundaram, Mitra, & Webster, 1998)spanning multiple product categories making them a useful target for companies (Slama & Williams, 1990). For example, the social integration of the maven affords them their inuence, with individuals who know them being more likely to act on their information as they tend to have greater condence in word-of-mouth than commercial sources such as advertising due to perceived credibility (Gelb & Johnson, 1995; Keller & Berry, 2003; Williams & Slama, 1995). Word-of-mouth can also inuence product choice (Price & Feick, 1984; Kiel & Layton, 1981) making it a useful managerial issue to examine. Consequently, mavens can be helpful to other consumers in advertising saturated markets by becoming competent information providers and advisors (Walsh, Gwinner, & Swanson, 2004 p. 100), particularly as they are generally smarter shoppers (Slama, Nataraajan, & Williams, 1992). Research examining market mavens is pervasive in the marketing literature. For example, studies have considered the demographic proles (Abratt, Nel, & Nezer, 1995), personality characteristics (Clark, Goldsmith, & Goldsmith, 2008; Geissler & Edison, 2005; Goldsmith, Flynn, & Goldsmith, 2003; Ruvio & Shoham, 2007), purchasing alternatives and criteria (Williams & Slama, 1995), and motivations for mavenism (Chelminski & Coulter, 2007; Clark & Goldsmith, 2005; Inman, McAlister, & Hoyer, 1990; Steenkamp & Gielens, 2003; Walsh, Gwinner, & Swanson, 2004) as well as the notion of industrial mavens in a business-to-business context that display . . . broad-based information on industrial markets

168

BARNES AND PRESSEY Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

(Nataraajan & Angur, 1997 p. 354). A notable absence from this list is an understanding of the degree to which market maven tendencies are constant or dynamic across setting and context. Market mavenism is thought to be continuous in that it captures market maven propensity rather than to identify mavens versus nonmavens (Feick & Price, 1987). In this sense, just as market maven propensity may feasibly be higher for one individual as compared to another and may also increase or decrease over the lifetime of a consumer, contextual factors in terms of channel may equally play a role in determining market maven tendencies. The rise in social networking technologies and virtual worlds also potentially facilitates the ease with which mavens can disseminate product and market information. For some individuals, the extension of maven behavior across channel may be associated with their personality characteristics. For example, a maven with an afnity for technology and high propensity to adopt new technologies will be likely to extend their maven behavior across channel. Further, other demographic, personality, or technology use characteristics of mavens may impact on the extent to which maven behavior in a real-world setting might extend to the Web and virtual worlds. Against the foregoing, identifying the transferability or uidity of market maven behavior across channels (i.e., the extent to which market mavenism is constant or changeable across channel) as well as identifying the presence of mavens in multiple marketing channels would seem valuable. As Geissler and Edison (2005 p. 74) note: . . . nding new ways of identifying and proling market mavens and targeting marketing communications to them may be increasingly important in the twenty-rst century. This takes on particular importance against a background of growing product choice, media saturation, and multiple channels (e.g., physical channels, the Web, and virtual worlds) in which consumers can interact with one another as well as with organizations. In the following section, the existence of markets mavens in three-dimensional (3-D) virtual worlds is considered.

1. Chat rooms (often organized around special interests such as consumer and lifestyle issues); 2. Web rings (related home pages where individuals can share information based on a single mailing list); 3. Electronic bulletin boards (allowing participants to post-group relevant information); 4. Lists (or listservs) (theme-based e-mail mailing lists); 5. Social networking tools (such as MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube); and 6. Virtual worlds, which can be broadly classied as either massively multiplayer online role-playing games (such as World of Warcraft and EverQuest) or virtual economies where participants create businesses and communities (such as Second Life, IMVU, and Active Worlds). These new channels provide the means for consumers to exert greater interpersonal inuence, thus making it important that marketers better understand the role of inuencers in these settings. In comparison to physical and Web channels, virtual worlds are a relatively new concept and hence require explanation. Three-dimensional virtual worlds (sometimes referred to as experience worlds) are increasingly becoming an important channel for companies to communicate with current and potential customers. These fast-growing Internet-based simulated environments where users can not only interact with each other, but with products and services provided by businesses and individuals (Lui, Piccoli, & Ives, 2007 p. 77) provide a platform for interactivity that can positively inuence product knowledge, attitudes toward brands, telepresence, and purchase intention (Klein, 2003; Li, Daugherty, & Biocca, 2002; Steuer, 1992; Suh & Lee, 2005). While the Web introduced a new highly interactive medium that altered the parameters of mass and personal communication (Hoffman & Novak, 1996; Rogers, 1986), virtual worlds stand to make an equally important impact on individuals daily lives and shopping behavior. As Drew Stein, CEO of Innite Vision Media (an interactive marketing agency that worked with Dell Island in the virtual world Second Life), notes: as people get more familiar with 3-D experiences, the at Web page is going to seem like a thing of the past (reported in Lui, Piccoli, & Ives, 2007). As the distinction between virtual worlds (such as Second Life) and social networking sites (such as Facebook) has not been well established in the literature, it is worth delineating the differences between these two computer-mediated environments. Virtual worlds can be thought of as a distinct form of social networking site in terms of the extent of the individuals interaction with the medium. For example, the optimal experience achieved in terms of playfulness or ow experienced in a particular environment (cf. Csikszentmihalyi, 1977) is demonstrably different between both types of site. It is proposed that there is a heightened sense of ow in virtual worldsthe sense of fun attained

VIRTUAL WORLDS DEFINED


Investment in online and digital technologies by business is remarkable with billions of dollars being expended in recent years (Arnold, 2004). The rapid rise of these technologies affords consumers new venues for interaction with other consumers as well as with businesses (Chelminski & Coulter, 2007; Geissler & Edison, 2005). As a consequence, in addition to traditional real-world settings where consumers might disseminate information (e.g., via the telephone, in retail outlets, or through face-to-face interactions with friends and family), there are broadly six virtual/online means by which consumers can interact (cf. Kozinets, 2002) including:

IN SEARCH OF THE META-MAVEN Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

169

in structured activities (Hoffman & Novak, 1996). For ow to occur, two key antecedents are necessary: the level of focused attention possible (the extent to which an individual is subsumed within the activity) and the balance between the skills and challenges involved in the interaction (Hoffman & Novak, 1996). In this sense, virtual worlds provide greater scope of focused attention and tasks/challenges than social networking sites. There are numerous tasks in virtual worlds such as Second Life not necessarily available via social networking sites that represent challenges ranging from shopping (at in-world stores), commerce (e.g., real estate), ability to engage in interactive games and leisure pursuits (including museums and art galleries), and networking opportunities (e.g., via special interest groups including those afliated to religious groups and educational institutions). If the challenge presented by a particular activity is perceived as being incongruent with the individuals level of skill then they can switch tasks or create their own. Focused attention is predicated on the capacity of the individual to become immersed in the environment. In this sense, virtual worlds provide an ideal context for focused attention as they are highly detailed, 3-D-rendered, interactive environments, consistent with the optimal conditions for focused attention where the individual . . . is in control of his actions, and in which there is little distinction between self and environment, between stimulus and response, or between past, present and future (Csikszentmihalyi, 1977 p. 36). Virtual worlds also provide greater telepresence: . . . the extent to which one feels present in the mediated environment, rather than in the immediate physical environment, by creating . . . an almost being there experience (Steuer, 1995 p. 36). Therefore, virtual worlds constitute a rich visual medium with a depth of engagement and high level of interactivity not afforded by most social networking sites. The emergence of virtual worlds encourages marketers to reect on the body of knowledge amassed on customers based on their real-world and Internet-based shopping behavior and to question some of these tenets or widely held axioms. As Fortin (2000) notes, a common question that generally arises when a new technology is introduced is: How does this affect what we already know about a phenomenon? (p. 524). Virtual worldssuch as Second Life and World of Warcraft capitalize on an individuals desire to inhabit alternative personalities and to occupy an anonymous alternative self in a virtual environment, thus potentially changing ones identity and even behavior via an avatarcomprising not only complex beings created for use in a shared virtual reality but any visual representation of a user in an online community (Hemp, 2006 p. 50). Avatars act as proxies for the real-world selfoffering the possibility for their human controller to explore . . . hidden aspects of their identities that . . . differ substantially from one another and from the creators public self (Hemp, 2006 p. 50). As a consequence, consumers may behave differently in such

environments than they would in real-world interactions and encounters thus providing a group of potentially new, or at least different, consumers and marketing opportunities. In the case of Second Lifea 3-D virtual world that is free to join and is created by its residents (one of the channel contexts examined in the present study) approximately 14 million residents (as of August, 2008) engage in leisure pursuits and trade using the in-world unit-of-trade (the Linden Dollar), which can be converted into U.S. dollars via online currency exchanges. Consumers can disseminate information in virtual worlds through a variety of means including dialogue (via text chat, instant messaging, and Voiceover-IP) with other avatars in public and through engagement in special interest groups. A number of major brands have a presence in Second Life including hightech rms (Sun Microsystems, Dell), car manufacturers (Nissan, BMW), luxury items (Armani, Hublot), service providers (IBM, Playboy), consumer goods (SonyEricsson, Nokia), as well as diverse others (Stanford University, the Swedish Embassy, Visit Mexico, and the Weather Channel). On the basis of these attributes, Second Life has been identied as an environment in which to examine consumers behavior in a virtual world context and the implications this might have for marketing (Hemp, 2006). Against the abovementioned, many assertions concerning consumer behavior based on real-world actions may have to be reconsidered within the context of virtual worlds, particularly as individuals avatars may behave differently to their real-world alter egos. The transferability of market mavenism across channels as well as the personal characteristics of mavens is now considered.

HYPOTHESIS DEVELOPMENT Market Maven Propensity across Channel


The market maven measure and concept was predicated on real-life interaction between consumers (Feick & Price, 1987) (i.e., a single channel), at a point in time when both the Web and virtual worlds were at an embryonic stage in their development. The present study considers maven behavior within channels, hence channel refers to the context or setting in which consumers interact and disseminate information about products and services. In a review of the extant literature, no study could be identied that considers market maven behavior across multiple channel settings. In their investigation of Internet teen-mavens, however, Belch, Krentler, and Willis-Flurry, (2005) assert that teenmavens (who take particular pleasure in surng the Internet), relative to others online, can be relied upon to provide useful information and in so doing inuence the family decision-making process to a greater extent than nonmarket mavens. Geissler and Edison (2005 p. 87) also allude to the notion of market maven

170

BARNES AND PRESSEY Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

transferability when they propose that Todays mavens probably communicate with more consumers than ever before. Indeed, more and more consumers are going online each year and mavens may be quite inuential towards a growing number of online consumers, along with their traditional circle of friends, neighbors and other associates. Therefore, one might act as a market maven across multiple channels. Although the preceding does not afford an understanding of the transferability of maven behavior in different settings, it does suggest that mavens can display such behavior in situations other than a physical, or real-world, context. Further examination of the maven concept and the nature of personality itself can help better understand the transferability of market mavenism. Market mavenism is a role individuals can adopt (Feick & Price, 1987 p. 85), predicated on the assumption that by collating and disseminating marketplace information they can increase their perceived power in society as they become more useful in their interactions with others (Sieber, 1974). Feick and Price (1987) suggest that this compels certain individuals to disseminate information in the expectation that they will become the recipient of rewards (i.e., that they will be the recipient of informed information on topics from others in return). Therefore, Web-based channels and virtual worlds offer platforms ideally suited to these individuals through facilitating social interaction via avatars (in the case of virtual worlds) and the dissemination of marketplace information. Some individuals feel that it is their duty to become well-informed consumers thus acting as information seekers (Feick & Price, 1987; Kassarjian, 1981). What drives one individual to become better informed than another is attributed in part to differences in attitudes and behavior (Feick & Price, 1987)hence a construct of personality. Specically, this is a question of the stability of personality insofar as it can be transferred across setting or context. Personality is thought to include objective and observable traits as well as roles, attitudes, goals, and behavioral tendencies (Tickle, Heatherton, & Wittenberg, 2001 p. 243). The extent to which an individuals personality can change (other than via neuro-biological injury such as through major brain damage) has represented one of the most signicant issues in personality psychology (Heatherton & Weinberger, 1994). Although opinion is to some extent divided on the topic, with some early views proposing that personality might be dynamic (Allport, 1937; Gendlin, 1964), most contemporary views hold that personality is relatively predictable and stable across time, situation, and over the adult lifespan (McCrae & Costa, 1990; Tickle, Heatherton, & Wittenberg, 2001). In support, Steuer (1995 p. 36) suggests that in certain computer-mediated environments, . . . people respond to mediated stimuli in ways similar to their real-life counterparts. Evidence also supports the notion that computers can provoke social responses that are analogous to human

interactions (Nass & Steuer, 1993; Nass, Steuer, Henrikson, & Dryer, 1994; Wang, Baker, Wanger, & Wakeeld, 2007). Thus, even when presented with new channels such as virtual worlds and the opportunities they provide to change appearance as well as to interact with human-controlled and possibly computer-controlled avatars, important underlying personality traits may be expected to stay the same. Therefore, it is asserted that:
H1: Individuals with high market maven propensity retain this characteristic across channel.

A pertinent question arises from the foregoing discussion. If market mavens do retain their maven behavior across channel then is this behavior equally strong in all channels? Put another way, might a market maven have a particular channel in which he or she exhibits their strongest maven behavior? As this is an exploratory study, and as no compelling evidence exists to suggest the contrary, the null hypothesis is offered:
H2: Market maven behavior remains constant for an individual across physical, Web, and virtual world channels.

Market Maven Propensity and Personal Characteristics


The second area of investigation relates to the personal characteristics of market mavens. Although understanding the characteristics of market mavens (and particularly identifying e-mavens) is an area of intuitive importance surprisingly little guidance is offered as to what characteristics might be most revelatory (Geissler & Edison, 2005; Walsh & Mitchell, 2001). As demographic factors have not proved particularly useful in classifying market mavens (discussed briey next), additional variables to explore maven characteristics were sought. Therefore, in addition to key demographics (age and gender), variables were selected related to personality characteristics (individualism, afnity for technology, and knowledge of others as mavens) and interaction with the channel (knowledge of channel and intensity of channel usage). Some of the hypotheses proposed are new whereas others have been tested previously. These variables are employed as they either represent demographic indicators or else relate to the study theme of virtual worlds. These are now briey examined. Demographic Factors. No clear or consistent demographical prole has been proposed of market mavens with considerable variability of views evident in the literature; indeed, Geissler and Edison (2005 p. 85) even go as far as to note the lack of success of demographically proling mavens, a view largely shared

IN SEARCH OF THE META-MAVEN Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

171

by the originators of the concept (Feick & Price, 1987). Equivocal (or at least inconsistent) ndings have been offered in prior studies (e.g., Clark & Goldsmith, 2005; Clark, Goldsmith, & Goldsmith, 2008; Geissler & Edison, 2005; Goldsmith, Clark, & Goldsmith, 2006) consequently making targeting mavens challenging. As no compelling argument or evidence has been offered to propose that mavens are of a particular gender or age group, the following hypothesis is offered:
H3: There will be no differences in gender and market maven propensity, and There will be no differences in age and market maven propensity.

H4:

Personality Characteristics. The rst area of market maven personality characteristics concerns the ability of consumers to recognize others as market mavens and their inuencean important means of validating the market maven construct (Feick & Price, 1987). This said, however, subsequent market maven enquiries have rarely employed this measure. Feick and Price (1987) found that a sizeable proportion of respondents had knowledge of other mavens, were assisted by them in raising awareness of goods and services, and received their help in evaluating goods. These measures were adopted for much the same reason as Feick and Price (i.e., as a means of validating the existence of market mavens and their recognition by others). It is proposed that individuals with high market maven propensity will have a greater likelihood of recognizing this characteristic in others that they interact with. This is based on the premise that mavens seek out other mavens in order to exchange information, as already noted (Feick & Price, 1987; Sieber, 1974). Hence,
H5: Individuals with high market maven propensity will be more likely to: (i) have knowledge of other market mavens; (ii) be assisted by them in raising awareness of goods and services; and (iii) use their help in evaluating goods and services than individuals with low market maven propensity.

relationships, instead placing greater emphasis on disseminating and receiving market information (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). Individualists are also more inclined to be condent in their decision making and proactive in disseminating their opinions and ideas (Chelminski & Coulter, 2007). Therefore, individualism would appear to be a trait consistent with high market maven propensity. Indeed, as Chelminski and Coulter (2007 p. 87) note: where people are more individualistic, and thus more condent in their marketplace endeavors, market mavenism is likely to be more prevalent. In addition, Clark, Goldsmith, and Goldsmith (2008) found a relationship between aspects of consumer self-condence and mavenism; conceptually not unrelated to individualism (Bearden, Hardesty, & Rose, 2001). Therefore, it is proposed that individuals with high market maven propensity are also more likely to exhibit strong individualism traits. Stated in the formal manner:
H6: Individuals with high market maven propensity will display higher individualism than individuals with low market maven propensity.

Afnity for technology can be dened as the degree to which an individual likes or looks forward to learning about and being involved with new technology (Geissler & Edison, 2005 p. 77). Consumers differ in their attraction to technology with some eager to adopt new technology and others anxious of such changes (Rogers, 2003). Hence, some consumers (based on their personal innovativeness) are more likely to adopt new technology than others (Agarwal & Karahanna, 2000; Agarwal & Prasad, 1998; Wolfradt & Doll, 2001). As mavens are considered innovative and with an attraction to new products (Feick & Price, 1987; Slama & Williams, 1990), it seems likely that they will have a greater afnity to trial and adopt new technology than individuals with low maven propensity (Geissler & Edison, 2005). Therefore, it is proposed that market mavenism is related to afnity for technology:
H7: Individuals with high market maven propensity will have a greater afnity for technology than individuals with low market maven propensity.

Individualism is a well-established concept that has its roots in personality traits attributed to the cultural differences between societies and refers to the uniqueness of each individual and concerns related to their own well-being in contrast to collectivistic individuals (Triandis, 1994, 1995). Although individualism is primarily a means to examine consumers from different societies (e.g., see Kim, 1994; Maheswaran & Shavitt, 2000), it can also serve to understand the psychological differences between individuals within a society. Individualists have a need for achievement, are competitive (Triandis, 1994; Triandis, Bontempo, & Villereal, 1988) and tend to maintain largely supercial

Channel Interaction. Market mavens enjoy learning about products and services, collecting coupons from newspapers and magazines and generally engaging with shopping behavior to a greater extent than other individuals (Feick & Price, 1987). Virtual worlds potentially afford mavens a new channel in which to interact. Clearly, users of virtual channels can engage with a particular channel as much as he or she wishes from light to heavy usage. In addition, an individual will also vary in the length of time they have been using a particular channel.

172

BARNES AND PRESSEY Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

It is proposed that if, as is supposed, mavens have a greater afnity for technology than nonmavens and proclivity for shopping interest then these characteristics will be extended to the Web and virtual world channels. Hence, market mavens user interaction and involvement with both the Web and virtual world channels in terms of user experience (the length of time the individual has been using each medium) and intensity of usage (measured in terms of the time spent in each medium) will be greater, in general, than those with low market maven propensity as they search for and disseminate product information. Therefore, it is proposed:
H8: Individuals with high market maven propensity will have greater: (i) channel experience; and (ii) intensity of usage of both Web and virtual worlds than individuals with low maven propensity.

(Nataraajan and Angur, 1997), thus demonstrating the robust nature of the concept and its broad applicability. In addition to capturing market maven behavior, data were captured for level of user interaction and involvement with both virtual world and Web in terms of user experience (i.e., the length of time using each medium) and intensity of usage (measured in time spent in each medium) as well as respondent demographics (age and gender). Finally, three personality indicators were employed, which included maven knowledge and importance (consumers identication of others as market mavens, their usefulness in assisting awareness and in aiding the evaluation of goods and services) (Feick & Price, 1987), individualism (Chelminski & Coulter, 2007, based on Singelis, 1994 and Triandis & Gelfand, 1998), and afnity for technology (using personal innovativeness in information technology or PIIT) (Agarwal & Prasad, 1998).

Data Collection and Sample METHODOLOGY Research Design and Measurement


The research design adopted by the study involved a cross-sectional, convenience sample using two selfreport surveys across three marketing channels: two online channels (Second Life and the Web) and reallife. Second Life is arguably one of the most advanced of virtual worlds and was deemed an ideal context in which to collect data. In order to be consistent with previous research examining market mavens, only minor modications were made to Feick and Prices (1987) original measure to reect the different channels under examination (see Appendices for all measures and items). The market maven scale measures an individuals tendency to disseminate useful market information across a variety of products and brands and is a unidimensional, 7-point, six-item, summated scale. The nomological validity of the market maven measure has been generally supported in comparison to the broadly conceptually similar measures of opinion leadership and innovators/early adopters (Feick & Price, 1987; Ruvio & Shoham, 2007). Although the market maven measure has not been without its critics (see, e.g., Goodey & East, 2008; Voss, Stem, & Fotopoulos, 2000; Williams & Slama, 1995), it has proved broadly robust across different cultural settings including the United States (e.g., Goldsmith, Clark, & Goldsmith, 2006; Slama & Williams, 1990), Germany (Wiedmann, Walsh, & Mittchell, 2001), South Africa (Abratt, Nel, & Nezer, 1995), The Netherlands (Steenkamp & Gielens, 2003), Israel (Ruvio & Shoham, 2007), South Korea (Chelminski & Coulter, 2007), and Poland (Chelminski & Coulter, 2002), as well as for studies of Web mavens (Belch, Krentler, & Willis-Flurry, 2005) and industrial mavens Of the two surveys employed in the study, the rst survey was administered by means of two avatar survey bots operating in Second Life for 10 days (n = 240). Each bot is essentially an avatar automated to deliver the survey items in text form and to collect responses in a database. Each bot had an advertisement for the survey in its group name, above the avatar. Details of the survey were also provided in the prole of the avatar and respondents were requested to instant message (IM) the bot. Respondents initiate contact and are given details of the survey and how to begin the questionnaire by sending an IM (with the word SURVEY). The survey then begins, with the respondent prompted to answer the questions in numerical format (e.g., What is your gender? 1 = Male, 2 = Female). One bot was male, another was female; both had formal attire. To collect sufcient responses, each bot was placed at a high-trafc location selected from Second Lifes popular locations list. The two locations were chosen to be as generic as possible (to appeal to both genders, different ages, and nationalities) and each focused on providing both free and paid-for digital content and on generating trafc through paid camping activities (where individuals are paid small amounts of money for time spent sitting at a particular location). Respondents to the Second Life survey were then invited to complete an online survey (via QuestionPro.com) measuring market maven behavior on the Web and in real-life (n = 102). The second survey was sent only to individuals who had completed the Second Life survey to ensure a matched sample of respondents. This was sent four weeks after the rst survey was closed in order to clean the initial response list. A small monetary incentive (in Linden Dollars) of just under US$2 was provided to respondents for each completed survey (approximately 1 US$ = 265 Linden$, as of May, 2008). Two reminder messages were sent to

IN SEARCH OF THE META-MAVEN Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

173

Table 1. Respondents Age and Gender Proles. Virtual World (n = 240) Gender Male Female Age 1824 2534 3544 4554 5564 65+ 125 (52.1%) 115 (47.9%) 98 (40.8%) 66 (27.5%) 43 (17.9%) 23 (9.6%) 6 (2.5%) 4 (1.7%) Real-Life/ Web (n = 102) 47 (46.1%) 55 (53.9%) 28 (27.5%) 36 (35.3%) 20 (19.6%) 13 (12.7%) 2 (2%) 3 (2.9%)

load signicantly on their factors with one exception the third PIIT item did not load signicantly in PLS Models III and IV and was omitted from further analysis. The factors display acceptable levels of reliability (Cronbachs > 0.7 and composite reliability, c > 0.7, cf. Nunnally, 1978) and validity (AVE > 0.5, cf. Fornell & Larcker, 1981). Discriminant validity is also demonstrated; the square root of AVE (average variance extracted) is larger than the intercorrelations. Furthermore, the intercorrelation between any pair of constructs does not exceed 0.9 (Model I, 0.393 0.746; Model II, 0.0560.512; Model III, 0.0630.659; and Model IV, 0.0550.663), suggesting that the multicollinearity problem can be ignored (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, & Black, 1998).

Second Life participants who had completed the rst survey to encourage them to complete the second survey. All responses were collected within 10 days (see Appendices A and B for all items and measures for both surveys). The demographic prole of respondents to each survey (see Table 1) suggests gender proles were split broadly equally between males and females, although slightly more females replied to the second survey. In terms of age, data on respondents for all age categories (1865+) were captured. Respondents age proles were skewed toward the 1834 group; the age prole of the second survey, however, was spread slightly more evenly. As no comparative demographic prole (e.g., age and gender) for Second Life or virtual world usage could be identied it is not possible to be certain as to how the study sample aligns with the actual demographic prole of virtual world users.

RESULTS Market Maven Propensity across Channel


Initially, the relationship between the three contexts of maven behavior measured was examined (namely, real-life, Web, and virtual world mavenism). The results indicated a strong association between the channels examined for market maven behavior (see Figure 1), particularly from real-life to the Web (p < 0.001) and from the Web to virtual worlds (p < 0.01). Hence, market mavenism would appear to be a generally constant phenomenon across channels. As such, a maven in real-life is more likely to display maven tendencies in other channels than a nonmaven, thus supporting the ndings received for Hypothesis 1. Notably

Data Analysis
In order to model and test the assumptions made and to assess the dimensionality of the scales, partial least squares path modeling (PLS-PM) was used with reective indicators (Centroid Weighting Scheme) in SmartPLS where appropriate (Ringle, Wende, & Will, 2005). PLS has the advantage of being effective on small samples, and does not require distributional assumptions of the sample. Further, PLS is a useful statistical tool for building and testing more inclusive models that examine more complex sets of relationships for each of the various channels under study. In order to gauge the adequacy of the sample for PLS, a post hoc power analysis using GPower 3 was conducted (Faul, Erdfelder, Lang, & Buchner, 2007). The analysis ( = 0.05, 1 = 0.8) revealed that the sample sizes were adequate for the four separate PLS models generated for small-to-moderate population effects (f 0.10, Models I and II; f 0.13, Model III; f 0.23, Model IV) (Faul et al., 2007). The associated reliability and validity statistics for the surveys and models are provided in the relevant tables associated with the PLS analysis (see Appendix C for factor loadings and associated statistics). All items

Figure 1. PLS Model IMaven behavior across all channels. Note: Signicance levels denoted by (10%), (5%), (1%), and (0.1%). Virtual world mavenism, n = 240; Web mavenism/real-life mavenism, n = 102.

174

BARNES AND PRESSEY Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

though, the R2 for virtual world market mavenism is only 0.2, indicating that there are other factors that, in the context of a richer nomological net, are likely to better explain mavenism in the virtual world context. It is also interesting to note the weak direct maven relationship from real-life to virtual worlds (p = 0.10); it is posited that this is likely to be due to the quite different perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors between these channels (cf. Hemp, 2006). There is a stronger intuitive relationship between the Web channel and virtual worlds than between virtual worlds and real-life. Both of the former channels are information technology based and share some common characteristics, including the importance of humancomputer interaction in behavioral outcomes and the use of electronic communications and social networking technologies. These ndings also offer support for Hypothesis 2 concerning the variability of market mavenism between channels.

Market Maven Propensity and Personal Characteristics


This section considers market maven propensity and personal characteristics. All models tested (see Figures 24) employed gender and age as moderating variables but did not identify any signicant results. Therefore, these ndings offer no support to reject both null Hypotheses 3 and 4 (which posited that there would be no difference between age, gender, and market maven propensity). The next series of tests examined the relationships between market mavenism and (i) individualism and knowledge of others as mavens for real-life settings, and also (ii) individualism, knowledge of others as mavens, personal innovativeness in information technology, and channel interaction (experience and intensity) for both Web and virtual world channels (see

Figure 2. PLS Model IIMaven behavior in real-life. Note: Signicance levels denoted by (10%), (5%), (1%), and (0.1%); n = 102.

Figure 3. PLS Model IIIMaven behavior on the Web. Note: Signicance levels denoted by (10%), (5%), (1%), and (0.1%); n = 102.

IN SEARCH OF THE META-MAVEN Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

175

Figure 4. PLS Model IVMaven behavior in virtual worlds. Note: Signicance levels denoted by (10%), (5%), (1%), and (0.1%); n = 240.

Figures 24). Each of these constructs is now considered in turn. Across the three channels examined, the direct relationship between market mavenism and knowledge of others as mavens (a composite of having knowledge of others as mavens, receiving assistance from them, and using their help in the evaluation of goods and services) was modeled. The ndings suggest that market mavenism leads individuals to seek and receive assistance from other mavens across all three channels and that mavens rely strongly on their network of other mavens for market information, thus providing support for Hypothesis 5. Interestingly, however, this behavior is strongest in real-life (p < 0.001), followed by the Web (p < 0.001), and nally, virtual worlds (p < 0.01), suggesting that mavens are less likely to be aware of other mavens and draw on their assistance on the Web and in virtual worlds compared to real-life, which may be attributed to mavens being more easily identiable in real-life than in electronic channels. Next, the relationship between individualism and market mavenism was considered for the three channels. The results obtained from the three PLS models indicate that individualism is a determinant of mavenism for all channels, and these effects are stronger in real-life (p < 0.001) than on the Web or in virtual worlds (p < 0.01). This implies that market mavens are highly individualistic and provides support for Hypotheses 6. Further, these results suggest that

individuals may be marginally less individualistic when online, which might be attributed to the nature of social networking technologies such as aspects of the Web and virtual worlds. Another further personality construct included in the assessment of the two technology channels, personal innovativeness in information technology (PIIT), proved signicant in both contexts (i.e., Web and virtual world channels). In particular, PIIT was more signicant for determining maven behavior on the Web (p < 0.01) than in virtual worlds (p < 0.05). Thus, innovative users who are more likely to adopt a technology, such as the Web or virtual worlds, are more likely to use it for market maven purposes, thus offering further support for Hypothesis 7. Finally, the impact of the individuals interaction with the channel (in terms of experience and intensity of use) on maven behavior was examined. For this, the impact of Web experience (WEBEX) and Web use intensity (WEBINT) on Web maven behavior was modeled as was the relationship between virtual world experience (VWEX) and use intensity (VWINT) on virtual world maven behavior. The results for interaction variables on Web mavens were not signicant, suggesting that use experience and use intensity did not signicantly encourage users to become mavens in the Web channel. The results for virtual world mavens, however, suggest a signicant relationship between virtual world use intensity and virtual world maven behavior

176

BARNES AND PRESSEY Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

(p < 0.001). This appears to imply that those frequently engaged in virtual world activities are more likely to engage in maven behavior. However, another interesting nding is the signicant negative relationship between Web use intensity (WEBINT) and virtual world maven behavior (p < 0.001). Thus, it appears that a higher intensity of Web use detracts from virtual world use and thus the ability to develop maven characteristics, suggesting that there is a degree of trade-off between the use of these different electronic channels. Therefore, only partial support can be offered for Hypothesis 8, which stipulated that individuals with high market maven propensity will have greater (i) channel experience and (ii) intensity of usage of both Web and virtual worlds than individuals with low maven propensity. Based on the tests conducted, the results of the hypothesis tests are summarized below (see Table 2). Evidence is offered to support four of the hypotheses and provide partial support for one, while no evidence was found to reject the two null hypotheses. One hypothesis was rejected.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS


Virtual worlds are fast becoming recognized as an important channel for companies to communicate and interact with current and potential customers. They afford companies the opportunity to simulate customers experiences in physical stores as well as enhancing product knowledge and inuencing customer attitudes and purchase intentions (Lui, Piccoli, & Ives, 2007). This study represents one of the rst attempts to better understand how consumer behavior might differ in virtual world channels, and, by so doing, better inform the understanding of an important group of consumers, namely market mavens. This group of consumers is of particular value to marketers as they are important agents in disseminating positive (and negative) wordof-mouth and exerting personal inuence over other consumers. In the title to this study, a question was posed which suggested the possible existence of the meta-maven individuals whose market maven behavior transcends channel context. By providing empirical support for market mavenism across channel and by exploring the existence of mavens in virtual worlds, this study contributes and extends Feick and Prices (1987) seminal work. Consequently, market maven behavior might not only span general product categories and market information, but also the channel itself (i.e., maven behavior remains fairly constantor uidacross channel). The second area of inquiry was to understand the degree to which market maven behavior was seen to be constant across physical, Web and virtual world channels or whether maven behavior varied by channel context. The results suggest that market maven

behavior is inuenced by channel. Specically, individuals with strong real-life market maven behavior perceive this to be at its strongest in this context, followed by the Web and lastly in virtual worlds. Therefore, while there may be the transferability of market maven behavior by channel (i.e., high-scoring market mavens retain this across channel), the ndings indicate that mavenism propensity is inuenced by the channel context. The signicance of the research for marketers is clear. Given that online communities are useful channels for consumers to engage in discussions, inform, and potentially inuence others consumers (Kozinets, 1999; Muniz & OGuinn, 2001) targeting mavens via online channels would appear benecial. This has important implications for online advertising and viral marketing. Marketing communications and strategies targeted at market mavens deployed through online channels (including using advertising, viral messaging, and cybercoupons) not only provides signicant value in a single channel through word-of-mouth and other viral behavior, but should also prove useful across multiple channels (e.g., real-life, the Web, and virtual worlds) through transferable maven behavior. Therefore, the comprehension that a market maven might display such behavior across channel context reinforces the view that mavens are fairly universal in their behavior. Indeed, the relative anonymity afforded to individuals in channels such as the Web and virtual worlds may even encourage maven behavior and its transferability across channel. As such, disseminating information in such relatively anonymous channels may be perceived by mavens to be relatively low risk in comparison to interactions with individuals in real-life settings. In the multichannel environment, market mavens take on greater importance as useful agents to disseminate marketplace information across channel context. The ndings also point to possible characteristics that may be used in the identication of market mavens by marketers: market mavens will typically have greater cognizance of other mavens, be technology-savvy and individualistic, will be of either gender and tend to be older, will be more intensive and experienced users of Web platforms and intensive users of virtual worlds. Virtual worlds therefore offer a further means of targeting mavens. As the understanding of market mavensin terms of their demographics and behavioris growing, it is worthwhile reecting on the ndings of this study in comparison with this earlier body of literature. In terms of gender, while Feick and Price (1987) and Goldsmith, Clark, and Goldsmith (2006) found that mavens were more likely to be female, this study found no genderbased differences (in line with the ndings of Walsh, Gwinner, & Swanson, 2004; Clark & Goldsmith, 2005; Geissler & Edison, 2005, and Clark, Goldsmith, & Goldsmith, 2008). This study also found no evidence that mavenism is linked to age, which is in keeping with the

IN SEARCH OF THE META-MAVEN Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

177

Table 2. Summary of Hypothesis Tests. Hypothesis H1: Individuals with high market maven propensity retain this characteristic across channel. H2: Market maven behavior remains constant across physical, Web, and virtual marketing channels. H3: There will be no difference in gender and market maven propensity. H4: There will be no differences in age and market maven propensity. H5: Individuals with high market maven propensity will be more likely to have (i) knowledge of other market mavens, (ii) be assisted by them in raising awareness of goods and services, and (iii) use their help in evaluating goods and services than individuals with low market maven propensity. H6: Individuals with high market maven propensity will display higher individualism than individuals with low market maven propensity. H7: Individuals with high market maven propensity will have a greater afnity for technology than individuals with low market maven propensity. H8: Individuals with high market maven propensity will have greater (i) channel experience and (ii) intensity of usage of both Web and virtual worlds than individuals with low maven propensity. Accept/Reject Accept Reject Failed to reject Failed to reject Accept

Accept Accept Partially accept

general consensus (Clark & Goldsmith, 2005; Clark, Goldsmith, & Goldsmith, 2008; Feick and Price, 1987; Goldsmith, Clark, & Goldsmith, 2006; Walsh, Gwinner, & Swanson, 2004). The ndings suggest that market mavens were more likely to be individualistic than nonmarket mavens. This is consistent with the ndings of Chelminski and Coulter (2007), and also offers similarities with Clark, Goldsmith, and Goldsmith (2008)who found a relationship between aspects of consumer selfcondence and mavenismand Clark and Goldsmith (2005), who offered evidence to suggest that market mavenism is associated with higher self-esteem and a need for uniqueness expressed through brand choice. In terms of afnity for new technology, the ndings support Geissler and Edison (2005), who found that mavens were likely to have a greater afnity toward new technology than nonmavens, and broadly with Andrews and Benedicktus (2006) who found that mavenism was associated with innovativeness and negatively related to resistance to change. For channel experience and intensity of usage, the results for Web mavens were not signicant, although the data did show a relationship between virtual world usage intensity and market mavenism. Given their afnity for new technology, however, it is perhaps not surprising that mavens seek further conduits to diffuse their knowledge. Often overlooked by researchers of the market maven concept is the notion that mavens are cognizant of other mavens. Feick and Price (1987) found that a sizeable proportion of respondents had knowledge of other mavens, were assisted by them in raising awareness of goods and services, and received their help in evaluating goods. The results concur with Feick and Prices (1987) original ndings, and also extend them as they show that this behavior occurs across all three channels examined, suggesting that there is something pervasive about this aspect of a mavens personality.

Finally, and central to the study, it was asserted that market mavens retain this characteristic across channelan assertion that has no base of comparison in previous studies as it has not been the subject of empirical attention. While some variability across channel was found, market mavenism would appear to be a generally constant phenomenon across physical, Web, and virtual world channels. In this regard, this nding offers support for the pervasive nature of Feick and Prices (1987) market maven concept. This study, like all others, has several limitations that need mention. Initially, a convenience sample was employed. More precise sampling techniques may aid generalizability. Although Second Life is arguably the most popular virtual world, it is not the only virtual world; studies of different virtual worlds may lead to different results. Finally, while this study has added to the understanding of the demographic proles of market mavens and personal characteristics, other measures could be used and would be valuable in shedding further light on this important group of consumers. Virtual worlds have added new channels to typical business models. Such channels are unlikely to displace other more traditional channels and shopping modes but rather to offer greater consumer choice and access (cf. Goldsmith & Flynn, 2005). Greater channel choice open to consumers merits additional study chiey in terms of the channel decisions made by consumers as well as those of marketers. Understanding the transferability of key concepts (such as market mavenism) and the generalizability of real-world ndings to virtual worlds will further extend knowledge of this increasingly important medium.

REFERENCES
Abratt, R., Nel, D., & Nezer, C. (1995). Role of the market maven in retailing: A general marketplace inuencer. Journal of Business and Psychology, 10, 3155.

178

BARNES AND PRESSEY Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

Agarwal, R., & Prasad, J. (1998). A conceptual and operational denition of personal innovativeness in the domain of information technology. Information Systems Research, 9, 204215. Agarwal, R., & Karahanna, E. (2000). Time ies when youre having fun: Cognitive absorption and beliefs about information technology usage. MIS Quarterly, 24, 665 694. Allport, G. W. (1937). Personality: A psychological interpretation. New York: Holt. Andrews, M. L., & Benedicktus, R. I. (2006). Are consumer innovators less resistant to change than market mavens? In S. Harlan (Ed.), Developments in marketing science, Vol. 29 (pp. 223227). Montreal: Academy of Marketing Science. Arnold, C. (2004, January 15, 16). Slow but steady gains anticipated in 2004, Marketing News. Bearden, W. O., Hardesty, D., & Rose, R. (2001). Consumer self-condence: Renements in conceptualizations and measurement. Journal of Consumer Research, 28, 121 134. Belch, M. A., Krentler, K. A., & Willis-Flurry, L. A. (2005). Teen Internet mavens: Inuence in family decision making. Journal of Business Research, 58, 569575. Chelminski, P., & Coulter, R. A. (2002). Examining polish market mavens and their attitudes toward advertising. Journal of East-West Business, 8, 7789. Chelminski, P., & Coulter, R. A. (2007). On market mavens and consumer self-condence: A cross-cultural study. Psychology and Marketing, 24, 6991. Clark, R. A., & Goldsmith, R. E. (2005). Market mavens: Psychological inuences. Psychology and Marketing, 22, 289 312. Clark, R. A., Goldsmith, R. E., & Goldsmith, E. B. (2008). Market mavenism and consumer self-condence. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 7, 239248. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1977). Beyond boredom and anxiety. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A., & Buchner, A. (2007). GPower 3: A exible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 39, 175191. Feick, L. F., & Price, L. L. (1987). The market maven: A diffuser of marketplace information. Journal of Marketing, 51, 8397. Fornell, C., & Larcker, F. D. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18, 39 50. Fortin, D. R. (2000). Clipping coupons in cyberspace: A proposed model of behavior for deal-prone consumers. Psychology and Marketing, 17, 515534. Geissler, G. L., & Edison, S. W. (2005). Market mavens attitudes towards general technology: Implications for marketing communications. Journal of Marketing Communications, 11, 7394. Gelb, B., & Johnson, M. (1995). Word-of-mouth communication: Causes and consequences. Journal of Health Care Marketing, 15, 5458. Gendlin, E. T. (1964). A theory of personality change. In P. Worchel & D. Byrne (Eds.), Personality change (pp. 102 148). New York: John Wiley and Sons. Goldsmith, R. E. (1996). Service innovativeness and price sensitivity: An exploratory study. In D. L. Moore (Ed.), Proceedings of the Association of Marketing Theory and

Practice, Vol. 5 (pp. 8591). Hilton Head, SC: Association of Marketing. Goldsmith, R. E., Flynn, L. R., & Goldsmith, E. B. (2003). Innovative consumers and market mavens. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 11, 5465. Goldsmith, R. E., & Flynn, L. R. (2005). Bricks, clicks, and pix: Apparel buyers use of stores, internet, and catalogs compared. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, 33, 271283. Goldsmith, R. E., Clark, R. A., & Goldsmith, E. B. (2006). Extending the psychological prole of market mavenism. Journal of Consumer Behavior, 5, 411419. Goodey, C., & East, R. (2008). Testing the market maven concept. Journal of Marketing Management, 24, 265 282. Hair, J. F., Anderson, R. E., Tatham, R. L., & Black, W. C. (1998). Multivariate data analysis with readings. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Heatherton, T. F., & Weinberger, J. L. (1994). Can personality change? Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Hemp, P. (2006). Avatar-based marketing. Harvard Business Review, 84, 4857. Hoffman, D. L., & Novak, T. P. (1996). A new marketing paradigm for electronic commerce. The Information Society, Special Issue on Electronic Commerce, 13, 43 54. Inman, J. J., McAlister, L., & Hoyer, W. (1990). Promotion signal: Proxy for a price cut? Journal of Consumer Research, 17, 7481. Kassarjian, H. H. (1981). Low involvement: A second look. In K. B. Monroe (Ed.), Advances in consumer research, Vol. 8 (pp. 3134). Ann Arbor, MI: Association for Consumer Research. Keller, E., & Berry J. (2003). The inuentials. New York: Free Press. Kiel, G. C., & Layton, R. A. (1981). Dimensions of consumer information seeking behavior. Journal of Marketing Research, 18, 233239. Kim, U. K. (1994). Individualism and collectivism: Conceptual clarication and elaboration. In U. Kim, H. C. Triandis, C. Kagitcibasi, S. C. Choi, & G. Yoon (Eds.), Individualism and collectivism: Theory, method and applications (pp. 1940). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Klein, L. R. (2003). Creating virtual product experiences: The role of telepresence. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 7, 4155. Kozinets, R. V. (1999). E-tribalized marketing? The strategic implications of virtual communities of consumption. European Management Journal, 17, 252264. Kozinets, R. V. (2002). The eld behind the screen: Using netnography for marking research in online communities. Journal of Marketing Research, 39, 6172. Li, H., Daugherty, T., & Biocca, F. (2002). Impact of 3-D advertising on product knowledge, brand attitude, and purchase intention: The mediating role of presence. Journal of Advertising, 31, 4357. Lui, T.-W., Piccoli, G., & Ives, B. (2007). Marketing strategies in virtual worlds. The Data Base for Advances in Information Systems, 38, 7780. Maheswaran, D., & Shavitt, S. (2000). Issues and new directions in global consumer psychology. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 9, 5966. McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T., Jr. (1990). Personality in adulthood. New York: Guildford.

IN SEARCH OF THE META-MAVEN Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

179

Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98, 224253. Muniz, A. M., Jr., & OGuinn, T. C. (2001). Brand community. Journal of Consumer Research, 27, 412432. Nataraajan, R., & Angur, M. G. (1997). A quest for the industrial maven. Industrial Marketing Management, 26, 353362. Nass, C, & Steuer, J. (1993). Voices, boxes, and sources of messages: Computers and social actors. Human Communication Research, 19, 504527. Nass, C., Steuer, J., Henriksen, L., & Dryer, D. C. (1994). Machines, social attributions, and ethopoeia: Performance assessments of computers subsequent to self- or other evaluations. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 40, 543559. Nunnally, G. (1978). Psychometric theory. New York: McGraw-Hill. Price, L. L., & Feick, L. F. (1984). The role of impersonal sources in external search: An informational perspective. In T. C. Kinnear (Ed.), Advances in consumer research, Vol. 11 (pp. 250253). Ann Arbor, MI: Association for Consumer Research. Ringle, C. M., Wende, S., & Will, A. (2005). SmartPLS 2.0 (beta). Retrieved January 11, 2008, from http://www.smartpls.de Rogers, E. M. (1986). Communication technology: The new media in society. New York: Free Press. Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations, 5th ed. New York: Free Press. Ruvio, A., & Shoham, A. (2007). Innovativeness, exploratory behavior, market mavenship, and opinion leadership: An empirical examination in the Asian context. Psychology and Marketing, 24, 703722. Sieber, S. D. (1974). Toward a theory of role accumulation. American Sociological Review, 39, 567578. Singelis, T. M. (1994). The measurement of independent and interdependent self-construals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, 580591. Slama, M. E., Nataraajan, R., & Williams, T. G. (1992). Market mavens and the relationship between smart buying and information provision: An exploratory study. In V. L. Crittenden (Ed.), Developments in marketing science, Vol. 15 (pp. 9093). San Diego: Academy of Marketing Science. Slama, M. E., & Williams, T. G. (1990). Generalization of the market mavens information provision tendency across product categories. Advances in Consumer Research, 17, 4852. Steuer, J. (1992). Dening virtual reality: Dimensions determining telepresence. Journal of Communication, 42, 73 93. Steuer, J. (1995). Dening virtual reality: Dimensions determining telepresence. In F. Biocca & M. R. Levy (Eds.), Communication in the age of virtual reality (pp. 3356). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Steenkamp, J.-B. E. M., & Gielens, K. (2003). Consumer and market drivers of the trial probability of new consumer packaged goods. Journal of Consumer Research, 30, 368 384. Suh, K. S., & Lee, Y. E. (2005). The effects of virtual reality of consumer learning: An empirical investigation. MIS Quarterly, 29, 674697.

Sundaram, D. S., Mitra, K., & Webster, C. (1998). Word-ofmouth communications: A motivational analysis. Advances in Consumer Research, 25, 527531. Tickle, J. J., Heatherton, T. F., & Wittenberg, L. G. (2001). Can personality change? In W. J. Livesley (Ed.), Handbook of personality disorders (pp. 242258). New York: Guildford. Triandis, H. C. (1994). Theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of collectivism and individualism. ibasi, S. C. Choi, & In U. Kim, H. C. Triandis, C . Kagitc G. Yoon (Eds.), Individualism and collectivism: Theory, methods, and applications (pp. 4151). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Triandis, H. C. (1995). Individualism and collectivism. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, Inc. Triandis, H. C., Bontempo, R., & Villereal, M. J. (1988). Individualism and collectivism: Cross-cultural perspectives on self-ingroup relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 323338. Triandis, H. C., & Gelfand, M. (1998). Converging measurement of horizontal and vertical individualism and collectivism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 118128. Voss, K. E, Stem, D. E., Jr., & Fotopoulos, S. A. (2000). Comment on the relationship between coefcient alpha and scale characteristics. Marketing Letters, 11, 177 191. Walsh, G., Gwinner, K. P., & Swanson, S. R. (2004). What makes mavens tick? Exploring the motives of market mavens initiation of information diffusion. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 21, 109122. Walsh, G., & Mitchell, V.-W. (2001). German market mavens decision-making styles. Journal of EuroMarketing, 10, 83 108. Wang, L. C., Baker, J., Wanger, J. A., & Wakeeld, K. (2007). Can a retail web site be social? Journal of Marketing, 71, 143157. Wiedmann, K.-P., Walsh, G., & Mitchell, V.-W. (2001). The Mannmaven: An agent for diffusing market information. Journal of Marketing Communications, 7, 195 212. Williams, T. G., & Slama, M. E. (1995). Market mavens purchase decision evaluative criteria: Implications for brand and store promotion efforts. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 12, 421. Wolfradt, U., & Doll, J. (2001). Motives of adolescents to use the Internet as a function of personality traits, personal and social factors. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 24, 1327.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the help and support of Mario Menti from GMI, Inc. in this project. Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Stuart J. Barnes, Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, U.K. (stuart.barnes@uea. ac.uk).

180

BARNES AND PRESSEY Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

APPENDIX A
Table A1. Virtual World Maven Survey. Measure Gender Item Are you: Male Female 1824 years 2534 years 3544 years 4554 years 5564 years 65+ years How long have you been using Second Life? less than one month more than one and less than three months more than three and less than six months more than six and less than 12 months more than one year and less than two years more than two years In an average week, how much time would you say you spend on Second Life? less than one hour between one and four hours between four and 10 hours between 10 and 30 hours between 30 and 60 hours more than 60 hours Please answer the following statements on a scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree, and where 4 = neutral (neither agree nor disagree). The statements will ask you about your opinions and behavior in Second Life. I like using information collected from Second Life to introduce new brands and products to my friends. I like helping people by using Second Life to provide them with information about many kinds of products. People ask me for information on Second Life about products, locations to shop, or sales. If someone wanted to know which Second Life locations had the best bargains on several types of products, I could tell him or her where to shop. My friends think of me as a good source of information on Second Life when it comes to new products or sales. Think about a person who gets information from Second Life about a variety of products, and likes to share this information with others. This person knows about how to use Second Life, how to nd information on Second Life, what the best locations are, and so on, but does not necessarily feel he or she is an expert on the products he/she gathers information on. How well does this description t you?

Age

Virtual world knowledge

Virtual world intensity

Virtual world market mavenism

IN SEARCH OF THE META-MAVEN Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

181

APPENDIX B
Table B1. Web and Real-Life Maven Survey. Measure Gender Item

Are you: Male Female Age 1824 years 2534 years 3544 years 4554 years 5564 years 65+ years Web knowledge How long have you been using the Web? less than a year more than a year and less than two years more than two years and less than three years more than three years and less than ve years more than ve years and less than 10 years more than 10 years Web intensity In an average week, how much time would you say you spend using the Web? less than one hour between one and four hours between four and 10 hours between 10 and 30 hours between 30 and 60 hours more than 60 hours Web market The following statements will ask you about your opinions and behavior regarding your use of the World mavenism Wide Web (NOT Second Life). Please answer the statements on a scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree, and where 4 = neutral (neither agree nor disagree). I like helping people by using the Web to provide them with information about many kinds of products. I like using information collected from the Web to introduce new brands and products to my friends. People ask me for information on the Web about products, locations to shop, or sales. If someone wanted to know which Web sites had the best bargains on several types of products, I could tell him or her where to shop. My friends think of me as a good source of information on the Web when it comes to new products or sales. Think about a person who gets information from the Web about a variety of products, and likes to share this information with others. This person knows about how to use the Web, how to nd information on the Web, what the best locations are, and so on, but does not necessarily feel he or she is an expert on the products he/she gathers information on. How well does this description t you? Real-life market The following statements will ask you about your opinions and behavior in real-life (i.e., physical channels), mavenism including shopping in physical stores. Please answer the statements on a scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree, and where 4 = neutral (neither agree nor disagree). I like using information collected from real-life to introduce new brands and products to my friends. I like helping people by using real-life channels to provide them with information about many kinds of products. People ask me for information from real-life channels about products, locations to shop, or sales. If someone wanted to know which locations in real-life had the best bargains on several types of products, I could tell him or her where to shop. My friends think of me as a good source of information in real-life when it comes to new products or sales. Think about a person who gets information from real-life about a variety of products, and likes to share this information with others. This person knows about how to use real-life channels, how to nd information in real-life, what the best locations are, and so on, but does not necessarily feel he or she is an expert on the products he/she gathers information on. How well does this description t you? Inuence of others as mavens Knowledge Do you know someone, other than yourself, who has information about a variety of products, stores, sales, etc. and likes to share this general information with others? Yes/No Assistance How important is this person in helping you to nd out about new brands and products? Evaluation How important is this person in helping you to evaluate different brands and products? Extremely important Important Somewhat important Neutral Somewhat unimportant

182

BARNES AND PRESSEY Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

Table B1. Continued Measure Item Unimportant Extremely unimportant Not applicable Please answer the following statements on a scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree, and where 4 = neutral (neither agree nor disagree). Id rather depend on myself than others. I rely on myself most of the time. My personal identity, independent of others, is very important to me. Being able to take care of myself is a primary concern for me. I enjoy being unique and different from others. It is important to me that I do my job better than others. Please answer the following statements on a scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree, and where 4 = neutral (neither agree nor disagree). If I heard about a new information technology, I would look for ways to experiment with it. Among my peers, I am usually the rst to try out new information technologies. I like to experiment with new information technologies. In general, I am hesitant to try out new information technologies. Table C2. Model IIResults of PLS Analysis. Inuence of Others as Real-Life Individualism Mavens Maven (Loadings) (Loadings) (Loadings) Individualism1 0.881 Individualism2 0.863 Individualism3 0.839 Individualism4 0.868 Individualism5 0.893 Individuailism6 0.831 Inuence of others 0.946 as mavens1 Inuence of others 0.955 as mavens2 Inuence of others 0.931 as mavens3 Real-life maven1 Real-life maven2 Real-life maven3 Real-life maven4 Real-life maven5 Real-life maven6 Individualism real-life maven Real-life maven inuence of others as mavens Reliability and average variance extracted AVE 0.744 0.891 Cronbachs 0.931 0.941 CR 0.946 0.961 R2 0.088 Discriminant validity Individualism 0.863 Inuence of others 0.056 0.944 as mavens Real-life maven 0.512 0.297

Individualism

PIIT

APPENDIX C Factor Loadings and Associated Statistics for PLS Models


Table C1. Model IResults of PLS Analysis. Web Maven (Loadings) Real-Life Maven (Loadings) Virtual World Maven (Loadings)

Items

Web maven1 0.890 Web maven2 0.874 Web maven3 0.788 Web maven4 0.857 Web maven5 0.875 Web maven6 0.784 Real-life maven1 0.789 Real-life maven2 0.889 Real-life maven3 0.879 Real-life maven4 0.895 Real-life maven5 0.906 Real-life maven6 0.828 VW maven1 VW maven2 VW maven3 VW maven4 VW maven5 VW maven6 Reliability and average variance extracted AVE 0.716 0.749 Cronbachs 0.920 0.933 CR 0.938 0.947

0.752 0.771 0.595 0.712 0.762 0.713 0.518 0.812 0.865

0.779 0.885 0.876 0.898 0.908 0.842 0.512 0.297

Note: Signicance level denoted by (0.1%). AVE = average variance extracted; CR = composite reliability.

0.750 0.933 0.947 0.262

0.886

Note: Signicance level denoted by (0.1%); intercorrelations for discriminant validity are shown in italics on diagonal; n = 102. AVE = average variance extracted; CR = composite reliability.

IN SEARCH OF THE META-MAVEN Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

183

Table C3. Model IIIResults of PLS Analysis. Individualism (Loadings) Individualism1 Individualism2 Individualism3 Individualism4 Individualism5 Individualism6 Inuence of others as mavens1 Inuence of others as mavens2 Inuence of others as mavens3 PIIT1 PIIT2 PIIT3 PIIT4 Web maven1 Web maven2 Web maven3 Web maven4 Web maven5 Web maven6 Individualism Web maven PIIT Web maven WEBEX Web maven WEBINT Web maven Web maven inuence of others as mavens Reliability and average variance extracted AVE Cronbachs CR R2 Discriminant validity Individualism Inuence of others as mavens PIIT Web maven 0.882 0.854 0.841 0.872 0.899 0.826 Inuence of Others as Mavens (Loadings) Afnity for Technology (Loadings) Web Maven (Loadings)

0.941 0.947 0.938

0.899 0.822 0.050a 0.901

0.886 0.875 0.775 0.856 0.882 0.795 0.246 0.356 0.066 0.089 0.261 0.716 0.920 0.938 0.398

0.744 0.931 0.946

0.888 0.941 0.959 0.068

0.765 0.846 0.907

0.863 0.063 0.658 0.543

0.942 0.143 0.261

0.875 0.583

0.846

Note: Signicance levels denoted by (1%), and (0.1%); intercorrelations for discriminant validity are shown in italics on diagonal; n = 102. a Item omitted from structural model. AVE = average variance extracted; CR = composite reliability.

184

BARNES AND PRESSEY Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

Table C4. Model IVResults of PLS Analysis. Individualism (Loadings) Individualism1 Individualism2 Individualism3 Individualism4 Individualism5 Individualism6 Inuence of others as mavens1 Inuence of others as mavens2 Inuence of others as mavens3 PIIT1 PIIT2 PIIT3 PIIT4 Virtual world maven1 Virtual world maven2 Virtual world maven3 Virtual world maven4 Virtual world maven5 Virtual world maven6 Individualism virtual world maven PIIT virtual world maven WEBEX virtual world maven WEBINT virtual world maven VWEX virtual world maven VWINT virtual world maven Virtual world maven inuence of others as mavens Reliability and average variance extracted AVE Cronbachs CR R2 Discriminant validity Individualism Inuence of others as mavens PIIT Virtual world maven 0.880 0.843 0.841 0.876 0.896 0.838 Inuence of Others as Mavens (Loadings) Afnity for Technology (Loadings) Virtual World Maven (Loadings)

0.942 0.951 0.935

0.923 0.756 0.082a 0.914

0.720 0.749 0.618 0.697 0.715 0.776 0.288 0.199 0.055 0.339 0.057 0.428 0.183 0.510 0.812 0.861 0.359

0.744 0.931 0.946

0.889 0.941 0.960 0.034

0.753 0.846 0.901

0.863 0.055 0.663 0.447

0.943 0.134 0.183

0.868 0.386

0.714

Note: Signicance level denoted by (1%), and (0.1%); intercorrelations for discriminant validity are shown in italics on diagonal; n = 240. a Item omitted from structural model. AVE = average variance extracted; CR = composite reliability.

IN SEARCH OF THE META-MAVEN Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

185