The advent of internet shopping brings countless options for consumers. In response, online retailers aim to facilitate search by attaching descriptive terms to their inventory (e.g., product genres or categories). Called “tagging,” such a practice has been shown to increase product visibility/exposure in an otherwise limitless sea of options. Across five distinct platforms covering a gamut of consumer domains (i.e., food recipes, mobile games, books, videos, and journal publications), we find that the benefits of tagging for product visibility/exposure come with unexpected costs. Indeed, though assigning more tags to a product does indeed boost its visibility/exposure online, doing so also hurts said product’s perceived quality. This effect emerges regardless of proxies used to quantify (i) visibility/exposure or (ii) product liking. We draw on categorization and learning research to explain these results. While multi-tagging increases the likelihood of a product to appear in consumers’ search, it also increases the likelihood of a mismatch between what consumers really sought and what said product can actually deliver. Link to the article
SEPEHRI, A., DUCLOS, R. and HAGHIGHI, N. (2021). Too Much of a Good Thing? The Unforeseen Cost of Tags in Online Retailing. International Journal of Research in Marketing, In press.