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Negative online consumer reviews: effects of different responses

Sebastian Ullrich (Ullrich Consulting)
Christian Boris Brunner (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 16 March 2015



This paper aims to investigate the effects of different response options to a negative consumer review. When consumers buy online, they are often confronted with consumer reviews. A negative consumer review on an online shopping website may keep consumers from buying the product. Therefore, negative online consumer reviews are a serious problem for brands.


In an online experiment of 446 participants, different response options towards a negative consumer review on an online shopping website were examined. The experimental data were analysed with linear regression models using product purchase intentions as the outcome variable.


The results indicate that a positive customer review counteracts a negative consumer review more effectively than a positive brand response, whereas brand strength moderates this relationship. Including a reference to an independent, trusted source in a brand or a customer response is only a limited strategy for increasing the effectiveness of a response.

Research limitations/implications

Additional research on other product categories and with subjects other than students is suggested to validate the findings. In future research, multiple degrees of the phrasing’s strength of the reference could be used.

Practical implications

Assuming high quality products, brands should encourage their customers to write reviews. Strong brands can also reassure consumers by responding, whereas weak brands cannot.


This research contributes to the online consumer reviews literature with new insights about the role of brand strength and referencing to an independent, trusted source.



The authors would like to thank Dr Olga Spomer for supporting this study and Dr Hannes Ullrich for his useful comments and suggestions on a previous version of this paper.


Ullrich, S. and Brunner, C.B. (2015), "Negative online consumer reviews: effects of different responses", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 66-77.



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