Is e-vespa sharing a mobility alternative for commuters?

Stella-sharing is a mobility offer by Stadtwerke Stuttgart. The sharing service offers e-vespas that are powered fully electric. In the industrial park Synergiepark Stuttgart there is an intention to make mobility more sustainable. Shared e-vespas could be a sustainable alternative with a low investement for commuters traveling to the Synergiepark.

Quelle: Stadtwerke Stuttgart

To gain an insight on commuters‘ intention to use e-vespas an on-site survey with 69 participants was conducted. 62 % of the sample were males, 35 % were females and 3 % were diverse. Participants had an average age of 34 years. Furthermore, 75 % of the participants indicated that sustainability is important to them. However, 65 % of the participants indicated to currently use the car for at least some trips or for a part of the trip to the Synergiepark, which highlights the potential for sustainable alternatives. The second and third most used means of transportation were the train with 48 % and on foot with 22 %.

26 % of the participants indicated a high interest to use e-vespa sharing for commuting to the Synergiepark. However, 68 % of the participants with a high or medium interest to use e-vespa sharing would use the service for a maximum range of 4.1 km on average. For most of the participants e-vespa sharing might thus be a supplement to currently used mobility offers. 39 % of the participants with a high or medium interest in e-vespa sharing indicated that the way to the train is a situation, in which they would use e-vespa sharing. In contrast, 32 % of the participants with a high or medium interest in e-vespa sharing indicated that commuting the whole way to the Synergiepark is a situation in which they would use e-vespa sharing. Important preconditions to use e-vespa sharing were its‘ benefit for participants‘ daily mobility routines and their experience with sharing. How easy the e-vespas are to use, benefits from the company for using e-vespas, and the fun associated with using e-vespas did not play an important role. Benefits for their daily mobility routines were mainly seen in a higher flexibility and a shorter travel time by participants with a high interest in e-vespa sharing.

In summary it can be said that e-vespa sharing can currently serve as a supplement for existing modes of transport in the Synergiepark for most of commuters. To promote the sharing service its‘ flexibility and shorter travel time should be highlighted. Experience in sharing is also an important precondition to use and thus test events could be offered in the Synergiepark.

How does the optimal mobility app look like? – An investigation of usage expectations, usage barriers and usability aspects

The Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB) has been providing mobility services in public transport in Stuttgart and the surrounding area for over 150 years. The goal of the SSB is to fulfill its tasks as customer-friendly as possible and thus to gain additional passengers – especially with a view to air pollution control. As an important step to increase the attractiveness of public transport in Stuttgart, the so-called polygo app is now to be developed. The polygo app is intended to become a user-friendly information and booking platform which offers access to multi-modal mobility offers in Stuttgart and the region. Mobility services offered by SSB FLEX, as well as bicycle rental, carsharing and e-scooter providers are to be integrated in the app.

Source: SSB AG

In their research, a team of six business psychology students from the Stuttgart University of Applied Science (HFT Stuttgart) identified usage expectations, potential usage barriers and usability improvements in order to support the SSB to achieve their goal of making the polygo app one of the top 3 mobility apps in Stuttgart. For this purpose, the team followed a multi-method approach and conducted three studies: qualitative interviews, a quantitative survey, and a usability test.

Study 1 and Study 2:

In the first study, 18 qualitative interviews were conducted with non-users, occasional users and regular users of public transport that were either students, trainees, or working people between 20 and 54 years. The goal was to find out what users expect from an optimally designed mobility app and what may be potential usage barriers. The next study was a quantitative survey with a 111 participants that lived within the area that is served by the mobility provider. The sample consisted of university students, working people, trainees, and high school students. Overall, 67% identified as female, 31% as male and 2% as non-binary. The aim of the survey was to gain a broader insight into the importance of certain features and exclusion criteria identified in the first study.
Nearly all participants of the qualitative and quantitative study who were either regular or occasional users have already downloaded a mobility app. Surprisingly, this has also been true for most of the non-users of public transport services. A big share of these non-users had downloaded the Deutsche Bahn app with the intention to use it for cross-regional connections.

Usage expectations

The qualitative interviews revealed that quick and simple processes, a good overview, and the possibility of personalization, for example in the form of saving routes as favorites, are important success factors for a mobility app. The most important overview-granting functions were the display of the fastest route as well as of delays and cancellations and the possibility to search for a concrete address instead of having to type in the name of the station.
Further, interview participants stated that they would only exchange their currently used mobility app when the polygo app offered new and more attractive functions. Suggestions for attractive functions made by the interviewees, such as the possibility to rebook and reverse tickets directly in the app and the possibility to use the app without an internet connection were also rated positively in the quantitative survey. The BestPreis function which was developed by SSB was perceived very positively by the participants of both, the qualitative and the quantitative, study. This function enables the users to save money when using public transport: Before each ride, a ticket is booked. With the first booking of a ticket, the period under observation starts. In this period, all booked tickets are gathered and saved. At the end of the period under observation, the cheapest ticket combination is calculated, and the respective sum debited.
For some participants, an innovative mobility app should also consider future development opportunities such as the possibility to book a car via the app which then drives to your home autonomously to pick you up.

Usage barriers

Examples of no-go’s mentioned by a large share of the participants are the display of incorrect connections, costs for downloading the app and dubious payment methods. Apart from that, non-users stated independence and comfort as reasons for not using public transport and associated apps.

Study 3:

In a third step, the usability of the app was tested with a sample of 12 participants who used the comparable competitor app “WienMobil”. This app was chosen for the usability test because the future polygo app is to be designed by the same provider and will offer similar functions and features. The aim was to reveal potential usability problems and to generate suggestions for improvements. The basis of the procedure in this test was the well-established usability test method of „thinking aloud“. The usability test consisted of a briefing, a test task, a post-session interview and a subsequent questionnaire. Five different tasks were set, such as e.g. the planning of a route, enabling the display of CO2 emissions for all suggested routes, or registering for a mobility service.

Usability improvements

Overall, the usability test showed great results. In the use case of planning a route, participants immediately recognized where to type in the start and destination. Moreover, they valued the color-coded display of connections in the app, as well as the auto-complete function when typing in destinations. The app menu is perceived as well-structured and the registration process for mobility partners is clear.
Participants also expressed ideas that could further improve the usability, such as the display of favorite routes on a map or the option to sort mobility service partners by different criteria.
As for improvements, the test revealed some minor, major, and critical issues when using the app. The identification of favorized routes and the issue, that the ticket button did not appear in every view of the app posed minor problems. Moreover, participants were unable to locate the function that sorts the suggested routes by CO2 emissions which represented a major issue. Therefore, participants wished that CO2 emissions for suggested routes are displayed by default. Finally, the usability test revealed two critical issues. In one view, the field for entering the start and destination of the trip were interchanged, making it impossible for participants to complete the task. Besides that, the procedure for favorizing routes was not intuitive.


The present research investigated usage expectations, usage barriers and usability aspects of a mobility app. The findings show that users expect an optimal mobility app to be simple to use and to offer options for personalization to make the use even more convenient. In order to encourage users of currently available mobility apps to switch to polygo, added value has to be provided to customers. This can be in the form of advanced functions, such as rebooking and reversing purchased tickets automatically within the app. To target non-users of mobility apps, one could consider including cross-regional connections. However, it has to be assessed, whether this function would encourage non-users to use public transport more often, since some stated motives for non-usage to which an app cannot react to, such as independence and comfort. Regarding the usability of the polygo app, the search for mobility partners should be improved through e.g. including filters in order to facilitate more efficient navigation on the app. Summing up, the optimal mobility app should be easy and smooth to navigate, while offering options for customization and advanced functions, to motivate customers to use it and encourage a sustainable way of transportation.


What’s your take on this? How would your perfect mobility app look like? We’re happy to hear about your ideas.

How can we facilitate citizen participation in urban planning processes? An eye tracking study of a 3D participation platform

Citizen participation is a major driver of democratic and socio-economic development, as well as a key method of citizen empowerment (NDI, 2021). Involving citizens in urban planning processes can help create a sense of community, generate valuable ideas, and increase acceptance of planning proposals (OECD, 2019). Facilitating citizen participation may help achieve these positive outcomes.

Kesselkompass3 – Inform, Involve, Cooperate – is an innovative 3D platform that enables citizen participation processes to take place online. The platform, developed by M4_LAB, offers a variety of tools and information to connect urban planners and citizens. On the platform itself, there is a 3D map of Stuttgart which offers several interactions especially for citizens but also planners. In addition, participation projects that have already been completed or are still in planning are presented. The platform has already been used by more than 600 citizens in previous projects and will now be further developed.

In order to investigate the usability and usage acceptance of said platform, four business psychology students from Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences conducted an eye tracking study combined with a quantitative user experience questionnaire and qualitative face-to-face interviews in the business psychology lab. The aim of the study was to generate advice regarding the structure, design, and content of the platform for M4_LAB. In addition, the acceptance of the name “Kesselkompass3” was investigated.

To achieve the aforementioned aim, we assessed the status quo of the platform with regard to usability and acceptance. Additionally, we examined the comprehensibility of the texts and the color concept. For this purpose, it was to be determined whether the texts provide sufficient information to gain a general understanding of the platform and the projects that have already been carried out and are described on the platform. When examining the usability of the web interface, the intuitive operation on the one hand and the comprehensibility of the dichotomy in the display, on the other hand, were to be assessed.

Our sample consisted of n=5 experts with a professional background in urban planning and n=10 citizens from Stuttgart. The study was conducted in the business psychology lab in compliance with the current Corona regulations of the state of Baden-Württemberg and the hygiene concept of the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences. 

Source: Linda Frey

After calibration of the eye tracker, the test subjects clicked through the 3D participation platform on the basis of a use case. Regarding the eye tracking we defined areas of interest, which could then be examined more closely by eye tracking. By defining such areas, a statistical analysis of key figures on the eye movement of the subjects in SPSS becomes possible. By means of the eye tracking, fixations (points that are looked at closely), saccades (fast eye movements), and multiple regressions of existing eye movements of the test subjects can be recorded.

In the second step, the quantitative questionnaire embedded on the platform was completed via Unipark. In the last part of the study, a qualitative interview was conducted using an interview guideline in order to obtain a more differentiated opinion of the test subjects and to obtain suggestions for improvement.

The analysis of the data showed that the majority of our sample was rather satisfied with the overall usability, font size, color scheme, and structure of the platform. However, they wished for more pictures and illustrations, as well as a better clarity of the content (less continuous text and more headlines). Furthermore, our participants commented on the performance and browser compatibility of the platform. They wished for more explanations on the platform itself and of the available tools. Regarding the acceptance of the name our participants suggested the simpler name „Kesselkompass“.

In consideration of the results, the platform is to be revised again in order to make future citizen participation processes efficient and successful.

The concept and realization of this study was supported by students of HFT Stuttgart – University of Applied Science: Linda Frey, Julia Holzapfel, Tobias Reulein and Fabian Seeger.


NDI. (2021). Citizen Participation. NDI. Retrieved from

OECD (2019), The Governance of Land Use in Korea: Urban Regeneration, OECD Publishing, Paris, .



What do people think about bike-sharing-systems? Examining the acceptance and usage

Riding a bicycle is environmentally friendly and good for your health – so it’s no wonder that 64% of Germans own a bicycle (Statista, 2021a). The number of bicycles in Germany last year was higher than ever before at around 79.1 million (Statista, 2021b). However, if you don’t own a bike, or don’t have it with you at the moment, many German cities offer the option of renting one. So-called bike-sharing systems have become increasingly popular in recent years. In the city of Berlin, for example, there are more than 15,000 rental bikes (Technologiestiftung Berlin, 2019).

There are two general types of bike-sharing systems. The first one is station-based bike-sharing, where bicycles are picked up and returned at self-serving docking stations. The second model is free-floating. Here you can simply leave the bicycle at any place, for example, on the side of the road. Usually, you can rent the bike using an app after registering once. In addition to regular bicycles, there is an increasing number of e-bikes being integrated into bike-sharing systems (note: the correct term is ‚pedelcs‘; however, this is rarely used among most users).

Bike-sharing systems have many advantages, such as offering a sustainable and affordable mobility alternative for residents and visitors. Also, bike-sharing systems can bridge existing gaps in the public transport network, such as covering the distance between a public transport station and a person’s home – the so-called last mile (Shaheen et al., 2010). However, before designing a bike-sharing system, it is important to examine the acceptance of (potential) users, including their expectations and potential usage. 

In 2017, we conducted a first study, in which the acceptance of a potential e-bike sharing system was evaluated. In order to examine the acceptance, the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology – Extended (UTAUT; Venkatesh et al., 2012) was used, in which the acceptance is captured as behavioural intention. Via an online survey, we gathered data of 372 participants (aged 18 to 29 years) answering several questions about their beliefs and attitudes towards e-bike sharing. In the subsequent analysis, we saw that the biggest influence on the acceptance of e-bike sharing was the performance expectancy, e.g. reaching the destination faster and being independent of the road traffic and the public transport. Further, the participant’s evaluation of the simplicity of using e-bike sharing had a huge influence on the acceptance. Moreover, social influence (participant’s belief how others think about e-bike sharing), pleasure-related motivation, and habit (if people already bike a lot) influenced the acceptance of e-bike sharing.

Based on these results, we worked out the most important levers for increasing the acceptance of e-bike sharing for two target groups, namely the high- and the low-interested people. Participants were asked how likely they would use e-bike sharing on a Likert Scale from 1 (extremely unlikely) to 7 (extremely likely). The high-interested group was made up of those who answered with 5-7, the low-interested group of those who answered with 1-3. Interestingly, the factors leading to a higher acceptance differed between these two groups. In the interested group (n = 112) the acceptance was higher when participants evaluated the use of e-bike sharing as joyful and fun. Further, the independence from road traffic, departure times of public transport, and the simplicity of using the sharing app led to a higher acceptance. Contrarily, participants mentioning a lower interest in using the e-bike sharing system (n = 201) showed a higher acceptance when realizing the environmental aspects, the faster arrival, and when thinking that peers would welcome the use of it. In sum, we have learned that potential users need to be addressed in a target group-specific way to enhance the use of the e-bike sharing system. While among already interested people emotional aspects enhance the acceptance, rational and social arguments can convince lower interested people.

To clarify the potential use of bike-sharing, we conducted a further survey (n = 101) in the city centre of Stuttgart in 2019. The sample consisted of 87% of people who were interested in bike-sharing but had never used it before (i.e., potential users). The remaining 13% of respondents were members of one or more bike share systems (i.e., actual users). Among other things, potential users were asked for which trips they would use bike-sharing, such as trips to work or for leisure activities. Actual users reported the trip purposes for which they were currently using bike-sharing. In addition, the survey investigated whether e-bikes were preferred for different trips over regular bicycles. Since there were only few people in the sample who used bike-sharing at the time, the data of potential and actual users were analysed together.

Here are our main findings:

  • Around 50% of respondents would use bike-sharing for trips to leisure activities, such as driving to the gym or visiting friends, as a tourist, or for running private errands, such as visiting a doctor.
  • Around 40% of respondents would use bike-sharing as a sport, at night times when there are rare or no public transport connections, or for travelling to public transport stations.
  • Around 30% of respondents would use bike-sharing for shopping or commuting to work.
  • E-bikes and regular bicycles are preferred for similar trip purposes. However, the respondents would prefer to travel a distance of 5km with e-bikes, and a distance of 2km with regular bicycles.

Differences of our results to findings of other studies (Buck et al., 2013; LDA Consulting, 2015; Mineta Transportation Institute, 2012) mainly consist of the comparatively low preference to use bike-sharing for commuting. However, previous studies largely focussed on actual bike-sharing users, whereas most respondents in the present study were only potential users. Therefore, user preferences might differ between early bike-sharing adopters and potential bike-sharing users. In addition, our study was conducted specifically for the Stuttgart area. The results for Stuttgart are not fully comparable with results from other metropolitan regions in Germany or worldwide.

What can we learn from these results?

One prominent implication of the results relates to the strategic placement of rental stations. Bike-sharing stations should be installed near sports and leisure facilities, such as fitness centres, restaurants, shopping facilities, tourist attractions, event locations, or other points of interest. Furthermore, it seems reasonable to place bike-sharing stations near public transport stations in order to make it easier to cover the last mile.

The studies also showed that cities need to think broadly about bike-sharing systems to meet the needs of different target groups, such as leisure users, tourists, and commuters. This may include special tariffs for tourists and casual users, the possibility to rent a bicycle spontaneously without registration, or a built-in navigation system with trip suggestions for tourists. Similarly, the communication and advertisement should be in a target-group specific manner, highlighting emotional aspects for convincing interested people and rational/social aspects for attracting lower-interested people.



Buck, D., Buehler, R., Happ, P., Rawls, B., Chung, P. & Borecki, N. (2013). Are Bikeshare Users Different from Regular Cyclists? Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2387(1), 112–119.

LDA Consulting (2015). 2014 Capital Bikeshare Member Survey Report. Retrieved August 10, 2019, from

Mineta Transportation Institute (2012). Public Bikesharing in North America: Early Operator and User Understanding. Retrieved August 13, 2019, from

Shaheen, S. A., Guzman, S., & Zhang, H. (2010). Bikesharing in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2143(1), 159–167.

Statista. (2021a). Jeder Zehnte besitzt ein E-Bike. Retrieved June 22, 2021, from

Statista. (2021b). Anzahl der Fahrräder in Deutschland von 2005 bis 2020. Retrieved June 22, 2021, from

Technologiestiftung Berlin. (2019). Leihfahrräder in Berlin: Erste Auswertungen. Retrieved June 22, 2021, from

Venkatesh, V. & Thong, James, Xu, Xin. (2012). Consumer Acceptance and Use of Information Technology: Extending the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology. MIS Quarterly, 36 (1), 157–178.


Check-in/check-out in public transport: Understanding the users and the acceptance of CICO-BW app

I am sure many of you know this situation: Before using public transportation, you are wondering which ticket you need, how many zones your trip includes or which tariff you must pay (or which ticket is the cheapest alternative). These questions demonstrate that using public transportation in Baden-Württemberg is complicated, which diminishes the attractiveness and, thus, acceptance of public transportation. To support the transition to more sustainable mobility, a change in mobility behaviour is needed. Since facilitating the use of public transport is an important requirement of many people for using it (ADAC e. V., 2017), great attention should be paid to this aspect. Therefore, Baden-Württemberg started a project called CICO-BW. It involves the introduction of app-based e-ticketing with a check-in/check-out system and a daily best price guarantee.

What does this mean?

This means that public transport users can use an app that allows them to check in with a swipe before boarding and check out the same way after getting off. The correct ticket is automatically recognized, the right price is automatically calculated and then charged to the user’s credit card. Users don’t pay more than the price of a one-day ticket. One possible app with this functionality is the FTQ Lab App, which is currently piloted under the name CICO-BW App in the region of Stuttgart. Besides overcoming technical challenges, the success of the app depends on its user acceptance

Source: Fairtiq

What do users want and how do they accept the CICO-BW app?

Examining user acceptance is based on user understanding (Diefenbach & Hassenzahl, 2017). This is achieved through the investigation of user needs, as these are the driving forces behind human behavior (Liebel, 2011). Therefore, we conducted a study in our lab that focused on user needs and their importance for the acceptance of the CICO-BW app. In a multi-method approach, qualitative Interviews (n=11) using a means-end-chain approach (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988) and a quantitative online survey (n=172) should shed light on the general acceptance of CICO-BW app, the relevant user needs and requirements as well as on their fulfilment by the application. By using a well-known acceptance model (UTAUT 2) (Venkatesh, Thong, & Xu, 2011), other relevant factors should be identified as well. Further, possible usage barriers and desired development opportunities were examined.

Key results:

  • The intention to use (4.2/5), the satisfaction (9.1/10) and the willingness to recommend (8.7/10) regarding the CICO-BW app are already quite high, which indicates a high general acceptance. Furthermore, 67% of the respondents think that the CICO-BW app facilitates access to public transport and makes it more attractive.
  • The most important user needs were convenience, security, and hedonism. Convenience was linked to the requirements for a fast, simple, and intuitive ticket purchase, which reduces the effort and stress when using public transport. The need for security should be met by a reliable system, which correctly calculates the price and relieves the user from the concern of getting a wrong ticket. Hedonism should be fulfilled by a gamified app which is fun and entertaining to use and thus increases users’ well-being.
  • Need for convenience is an influencing factor on the intention to use: The greater the fulfilment of the need for convenience, the more people tend to use CICO-BW app. Needs for security and hedonism are influencing factors regarding the satisfaction: The greater the fulfilment of these needs is, the grater the satisfaction with the CICO-BW app. Additionally, people’s interest in the CICO-BW App and their satisfaction also depends on social influence, i.e. whether their social environment wants them to use the app or not (social influence).
  • While the need for security is sufficiently fulfilled by the app and the need for hedonism is met to a very high degree, the need for convenience is currently not fulfilled sufficiently.
  • The greatest usage barriers included forgetting to check out as well as inaccuracies related to location and payment. The frequently desired development opportunities included the integration of more payment options, an existing monthly and annual pass, and saving statistics as well as the option for group rides and the opportunity for a monthly or annual best price.

What do the results imply for practice?

Since convenience is important for user acquisition and shows deficits in terms of fulfilment, this must be the primary focus in practice (e.g., fixing location-related problems). The needs for security and hedonism are important for user retention and their fulfilment should be increased by fixing billing-related problems and using gamification opportunities. Recommendation marketing by users themselves but also by influencers could also be important in terms of increasing user acceptance. Further, implementation of development opportunities such as the integration of an existing monthly/annual pass in the CICO-BW app not only includes occasional users and non-users but also frequent public transport passengers as a target group.

In summary, the identified needs can be used as the basis for developing, evaluating, and promoting the check-in/check-out systems within the CICO project. This ensures a user-centred focus and, consequently, a high level of user acceptance. This is the only way to make public transport in Baden-Württemberg less complicated as well as more attractive. Consequently, it should a positive effect on usage rates.

If you want to understand the results in a practical way and follow the development of the app, you can find more information about the CICO-BW app here.

Source: Fairtiq


ADAC e.V. (2017, 16. Februar). Umfrage: Bereitschaft zum Umstieg auf ÖPNV vorhanden. ADAC. Verfügbar unter:

Diefenbach, S., & Hassenzahl, M. (2017). Psychologie in der nutzerzentrierten Produktgestaltung. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Liebel, F. (2011). Motivforschung. In Qualitative Marktforschung in Theorie und Praxis (pp. 473-490). Gabler.

Reynolds, T. J., & Gutman, J. (1988). Laddering theory, method, analysis, and interpretation. Journal of advertising research28(1), 11-31.

Venkatesh, V., Thong, J. Y., & Xu, X. (2012). Consumer acceptance and use of information technology: extending the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology. MIS Quarterly, 157-178.

Do we trust product reviews? Acceptance factors behind electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM)

The modern world of consumption is characterized by the steadily growing e-commerce sector and a large variety of shops, brands and providers. According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office (2019), 84% of Germans have already ordered something online and almost a third of users make at least one online purchase per week (Statista, 2019). These numbers have grown since the pandemic, as 36% of Germans indicate that they now purchase more products online (Bitkom, 2020). In order to make the right purchase decision in this unmanageable variety of offers, consumers are increasingly orienting themselves towards recommendations from other customers who have already bought a product and who share their experiences with other users (Lis & Korchmar, 2013). While in the past buyers were mainly influenced by advertising and personal sales advice, studies have shown that today many consumers not only proactively seek digital recommendations, but also prefer them over traditional information sources (Bickart & Schindler, 2001; Heckathorne, 2010; Mourali et al., 2005). This digital communication between consumers is known as electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) and the most relevant form are online product reviews (Lis & Korchmar, 2013).

Consumers see online product reviews as a relevant source of information and orientation, which is tailored to the specific product or service of interest. They are usually regarded as independent and objective. However, due to the high reach, many companies have recognized that product reviews are an inexpensive and at the same time effective instrument in order to increase sales (Lis, 2013). This leads to the issue that some companies have started to manipulate product reviews or even defame competitors with negative reviews. These corporate actions can deceive consumers in their perception and lead them to biased purchase decisions (He et al., 2020). In view of the questionable authenticity and objectivity of some contributions, the perceived credibility of a review plays a decisive role in its impact on consumers.

In his research, Jan Klenk from the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences investigated the determinants and implications of online product reviews based on the classical Hovland-Yale-approach for persuasive messages (Hovland et al., 1953), which considers the sender of the message, the message itself and the recipient of the message as relevant aspects of persuasion. It is of interest to see, how these three aspects interact and determine the credibility of a product review. The central research question was, which determinants (sender, message, recipient) significantly promote the credibility of online product reviews?

In an online survey, 244 consumers were asked to evaluate fictional reviews, which were manipulated regarding the influencing variables described above. Half of the participants stated that they had already written product reviews themselves. Besides, 66% of participants indicated that they use product reviews often or always and 78% stated that they have a positive attitude towards product reviews. The study revealed that product reviews have a great importance for consumption decisions. Credibility of these reviews is largely determined by sender and message-specific characteristics. In addition to the perceived expertise of the sender and the quality of the arguments used in the review, the trustworthiness of the sender is particularly important. It has the highest degree of effectiveness of all factors and should therefore be the focus of possible measures to increase the credibility of online product reviews. In comparison, recipient characteristics were found to be of little relevance in this study.

To sum up, both, the characteristics of the sender as well as of the message, are relevant for credibility and, thus, acceptance of an online product review. Additionally, independence is the basis for sustainable added value from product reviews. Therefore, Klenk suggests that companies should take care to preserve the independence of the reviewers and to present their qualities in a modern and meaningful review system. This is the only way product reviews are accepted by consumers and can create long-term added value for companies, online retailers and consumers.

What are your thoughts on product reviews? Do you rely on them or are you rather skeptical? We are happy to hear your opinion.



Bickart, B. & Schindler, R. (2001). Internet Forums As Influential Sources of Consumer Information. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 15(3), 31–40.

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Lis, B. (2013). In eWOM We Trust. Wirtschaftsinformatik, 55(3), 121–134.

Lis, B. & Korchmar, S. (2013). Digitales Empfehlungsmarketing: Konzeption, Theorien und Determinanten zur Glaubwürdigkeit des Electronic Word-of-Mouth (EWOM). Springer.

Mourali, M., Laroche, M. & Pons, F. (2005). Antecedents of Consumer Relative Preference for Interpersonal Information Sources in Pre-Purchase Search. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 4(5), 307–318.

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