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Social-Media, Influencers, and Adoption of an Eco-Friendly Product: Field Experiment Evidence from Rural China

Zhang, W., Chintagunta, P. & Kalwani, M. (2021). Social-Media, Influencers, and Adoption of an Eco-Friendly Product: Field Experiment Evidence from Rural China. Journal of Marketing, 85(3), pp. 10-27. doi: 10.1177/0022242920985784


Can low-cost marketing tools that are used to enhance business performance also contribute to creating a better world? The authors investigate the role of online social media tools in alleviating customer (farmer) uncertainty and promoting the adoption of a new ecofriendly pesticide in rural China. The key finding is that even for a new product such as a pesticide, a low-cost social media support platform effectively promotes its adoption. The combination of information from peers and the firm on the platform facilitates learning about product features and alleviates uncertainty associated with product quality and appropriate product usage. Nevertheless, at the trial stage of the funnel the platform underperforms the firm’s customized one-on-one support because available information does not resolve uncertainty in supplier credibility and product authenticity. Having an influencer on the platform, albeit not an expert on this product, vouching for its credibility helps resolve this funnel-holdup problem. From a theoretical perspective this paper provides suggestive evidence for referent influence and credibility signaling on social media platforms and their consequences for new product trial. The authors also provide direct empirical evidence on how information facilitates learning; a phenomenon typically assumed as being present in marketing studies estimating learning models

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Publisher Keywords: social media, mobile marketing, emerging markets, field experiment, innovation adoption
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
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