Google Search Effect on Experience Product Sales and Users’ Motivation to Search: Empirical Evidence from The Hotel Industry


Daying Zhao
Bin Fang
Huiying Li
Qiang Ye


As individuals increasingly rely on the Internet to access product information, search engines have become an important navigation tool to enhance information collection efficiency. Although there are plenty of user-generated reviews to help consumers evaluate product quality, individuals often seek further information using search engines such as Google before making a purchase, especially for experience products. With the accelerated pace of economic activities and the development of the internet and mobile technologies, consumers’ shopping dynamics have been intensified. Therefore, it is of both theoretical and practical significance to track the shifts in customer interest with minimum time delay. Unlike previous studies that have used monthly or weekly data, we focus on the near-term relationship between Google search and product sales. The search requests recorded by Google Trends provide us an ideal database to learn the collective attention of potential customers in a timely fashion. Combined with the hotel data collected from, this study first investigates the relationship between Google search volumes and the related product sales with 48-hour time-lag intervals. The results confirm a two-way positive effect between these two factors. We further explore the influence of price discounts on consumer search behaviors and the moderate effect of retailers’ online reputations. The results suggest that offering a price discount has a positive impact on the Google search volume of the promoted product, however the retailer’s online reputation negatively moderates this influence. The findings not only have significant practical implications for the hotel industry but also benefit the experience products industry in general. Moreover, the findings contribute to the literature on consumer behavior in the online market as well as on online WOM.

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Published Date: 

November, 2018

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