How Do Expectations Shape Consumer Satisfaction? An Empirical Study on Knowledge Products


Xin Fu
Shaoxia Liu
Bin Fang
Xin (Robert) Luo
Shun Cai


This study aims to gain a better understanding of how the expectation-confirmation process shapes consumers’ satisfaction with products in the emerging online knowledge industry. Like other experience products, the benefits that a consumer can gain from a knowledge product are greatly associated with the consumer’s initial expectations. To capture consumers’ attitudes towards knowledge products both before and after usage, this study conducts an innovative online survey in order to explore both the direct and indirect effects of pre-usage expectations on consumers’ satisfaction. Four hundred valid responses were collected, and the proposed hypotheses were empirically verified through structural equation modeling. The results indicate that both direct and indirect paths of expectation positively impact satisfaction, although the latter has a stronger influence. In addition, product price positively moderates the relationship between expectation and confirmation. The findings extend expectation-confirmation theory by introducing perceived risk and product price as constructs, and they contribute to the literature by providing empirical evidence of the effect of pre-usage expectations on consumers’ satisfaction. This study can help knowledge product providers and third-party platforms better understand how consumer satisfaction forms and, subsequently, enhance long-term customer relationships.

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February, 2020

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