Effects of Customer Heterogeneity on Participation Performance in Virtual Brand Community: A Two-Stage Semiparametric Approach

Ji Wu, Kang Xie, Jinghua Xiao, and Jianhui Xie
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 22, Number 2, 2018, pp. 289-321.


Studies have employed various performance measures to determine the effect of virtual brand community (VBC) participation on customer values. However, different single-factor measures usually lead to conflicting results. This study proposes an overall participation performance measure, VBC participation performance, which follows a holistic-view definition of customer values, including frequency of customer visit, purchase frequency, purchase expenditure, and word-of-mouth frequency, obtain from the overall community activities, and it is evaluated through data envelopment analysis (DEA). We further determine the effect of the customer’s gender, age, tenure, and interactions on VBC participation performance by using Tobit regression models. The results show that our proposed measure outperforms either single-factor measures or measures based on other multicriteria decision analyses. Our findings also reveal that VBC is less efficient for females and customers with long tenure, and the effect of gender difference on VBC participation performance will be more (less) significant with increasing age (tenure). The findings extend existing research by suggesting an overall participation performance measure in VBC and providing insights on customer heterogeneity in the efficacy of VBC participation. This study also offers actionable recommendations for managers in term of customer segmentation and VBC design.

Key Words and Phrases: Community participation, customer heterogeneity, data envelopment analysis, online communities, virtual brand community, Tobit regression.