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The most optimal way to deal with negative consumer review: Can positive brand and customer responses rebuild product purchase intentions?

Christian Boris Brunner (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Reading, UK)
Sebastian Ullrich (Faculty of Business and Economics, Fachhochschule Schmalkalden, Schmalkalden, Germany)
Mauro Jose De Oliveira (Business and Marketing Department, Centro Universitario da FEI, Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 11 December 2018

Issue publication date: 7 January 2019



After a negative consumer review (NCR) has been posted on an online shopping site such as, the immediate concern of a brand holder should be to focus on the steps the brand should take to rebuild the unhappy consumers’ trust. The purpose of this paper is to employ the signalling theory to analyse whether a brand response, a customer response or a response that combines both when responding to a NCR leads to better product purchase intentions at the customer end.


In a laboratory study comprising 351 respondents, six different response scenarios are tested, both for a well-known and an unknown brand. The experiment employs a 6 (response scenario: single brand response, single customer response, brand response and one customer response or vice versa, brand response and three customer responses or vice versa)×2 (customer-based brand equity: strong/weak) between-subject design.


The findings show that after a NCR, the subjects perceive a customer response as more trustworthy than a response from an unknown brand. However, customer-based brand equity changes the whole story. If a strong brand responds, the purchase intentions of the subjects are similar to those generated by a single customer’s response. In addition, after considering multiple responses, it can be seen that a response combining a brand and a customer response has a higher effect than from a single response. Furthermore, the authors demonstrate that perceptions are more favourable if several customer responses are sent in case of an unknown brand.


The originality of this paper lies in the fact that it tries to explore how the consumers perceive multiple responses from different sources after a NCR has been posted. The results highlight that a response that combines a brand and a customer response has a significantly higher effect than what is achieved from a single response. It must also be noted that customer-based brand equity plays a key role.



Brunner, C.B., Ullrich, S. and De Oliveira, M.J. (2019), "The most optimal way to deal with negative consumer review: Can positive brand and customer responses rebuild product purchase intentions?", Internet Research, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 104-122.



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