Published on Wed Feb 22 2017

Social Learning and Diffusion of Pervasive Goods: An Empirical Study of an African App Store

Meisam Hejazi Nia, Brian T. Ratchford, Norris Bruce

Social influence refers to the density of adopters within the proximity of other customers. Using a large data set from an African app store, the authors quantify the effect of social influence. The findings show that customer choices in the app store are explained better offline than online.

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Abstract

In this study, the authors develop a structural model that combines a macro diffusion model with a micro choice model to control for the effect of social influence on the mobile app choices of customers over app stores. Social influence refers to the density of adopters within the proximity of other customers. Using a large data set from an African app store and Bayesian estimation methods, the authors quantify the effect of social influence and investigate the impact of ignoring this process in estimating customer choices. The findings show that customer choices in the app store are explained better by offline than online density of adopters and that ignoring social influence in estimations results in biased estimates. Furthermore, the findings show that the mobile app adoption process is similar to adoption of music CDs, among all other classic economy goods. A counterfactual analysis shows that the app store can increase its revenue by 13.6% through a viral marketing policy (e.g., a sharing with friends and family button).

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