First the results of this study indicate that brand awareness (H1) has a significant influence on the purchase intention of online shoppers. Specifically this means that when people consider buying a product or service online, they would prefer a brand which has been advertized and they know about it. Nevertheless, brand awareness is likely to be a leading factor in the search for information stage in the online pre-purchase process. In this also called consideration stage (David Court, 2009), the largest number of brands takes place, but since today’s customers are awash in choices, it is eventually reduced based on other factors. This study reveals that consumers could change their preference in favor of an unknown brand if they find evaluation input in form of customer referrals. In this case, their final decision is based on the useful information that they found in the eWOM message rather than the awareness of the chosen brand (H2). The input from reviewers can discard some famous brands because as consumers learn more “their criteria shift” (Edelman, 2010, p. 3).
A goal of this research was also to find out how useful eWOM influences purchase intention of online shoppers. It has been found that two groups of factors make the information perceived as useful – related to the eWOM and related to the source.
In the first group, relevance of the eWOM exhibited significant impact on purchase intention (H3). However, the other factors, namely, accuracy, timeliness and comprehensiveness were insignificant. Relevancy is a very important aspect of the information. If not relevant, people would not take into consideration the information at all and especially on the Internet where tons of additional information can be found. Moreover, when consumers are looking for specific content, the first thing that they would consider is if this content complies with their needs. If however, the information does not correspond with these needs, it is logical to be rejected. The importance of relevance is also in line with the findings of Cheung, Lee, & Rabjohn (2008). Secondly, an explanation for the insignificance of the timeliness factor could be found in the measurement construct. Only one item was used to test this factor which might explain the non-significance of this variable. This is also explained further in the limitations and further research section. Another possible explanation for the not significant relationship between timeliness and purchase intention might be found in the context of the study. In the online environment, topics related to hotels may not be as time sensitive as fashion topics, for example. Reviews from the past could even be perceived as valuable, because they can help customers to track down the reputation of a certain hotel. Thirdly, accuracy was also found insignificant and an explanation could be that it is a rather subjective term. A certain message could be perceived as accurate for some and imprecise for...