Forecasting sales of new and existing products using consumer reviews: A random projections approach

Matthew John Schneider, Sachin Gupta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

We consider the problem of predicting sales of new and existing products using both the numeric and textual data contained in consumer reviews. Many of the extant approaches require considerable manual pre-processing of the textual data, making the methods prohibitively expensive to implement and difficult to scale. In contrast, our approach uses a bag-of-words method that requires minimal pre-processing and parsing, making it efficient and scalable. However, a key implementation challenge with the bag-of-words approach is that the number of predictors can quickly outstrip the number of degrees of freedom available. Furthermore, the method can require impracticably large computational resources. We propose a random projections approach for dealing with the curse-of-dimensionality issue that afflicts bag-of-words models. The random projections approach is computationally simple, flexible and fast, and has desirable statistical properties. We apply the proposed approach to the forecasting of sales at Amazon.com using consumer reviews with an attributes-based regression model. The model is applied to produce of one-week-ahead rolling horizon sales forecasts for existing and newly-introduced tablet computers. The results show that the predictive performance of the proposed approach for both tasks is strong and significantly better than those of either models that ignore the textual content of consumer reviews, or a support vector regression machine with the textual content. Furthermore, the approach is easy to repeat across product categories, and readily scalable to much larger datasets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-256
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Forecasting
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Keywords

  • Big data
  • Consumer reviews
  • Forecasting
  • Random projections
  • Textual data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management

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