Purpose - To improve the effectiveness of online reviews in the cultural industries, this study attempts to examine the effects of online cultural reviews of professional and consumer commentators on consumer responses toward elite and mass cultural offerings by drawing upon associative learning theory and social influence theory. Design/methodology/approach - This study used a 2 (cultural offerings: elite vs. mass) x 2 (commentators: professional vs. consumer) between-participants factorial design to examine the proposed hypotheses. A total of 195 participants were randomly assigned to one of four experimental cells. Findings - The ANOVA results indicate that the credibility of online cultural reviews is significantly higher for professional commentators than for consumer commentators across both elite and mass cultural offerings. Furthermore, the results confirm that there is a significant cultural offering type by commentator interaction on a consumer’s offering evaluation, overall attitude, and behavioral intention. Research limitations/implications - This study provides strong support for the congruence between cultural commentators and cultural offerings in online cultural reviews. The findings can also effectively explain the weak correlation between professional judgments and popular appeal. Practical implications - For better effectiveness of online cultural reviews, the findings recommend cultural marketers that the use of professional commentators is effective for elite cultural offerings, whereas the use of consumer commentators is effective for mass cultural offerings. Originality/value - This study proposes a useful dichotomy to classify cultural offerings as elite and mass. Meanwhile, this study is one of the first to examine the congruence between cultural offerings and cultural commentators in online reviews.