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Analyzing different types of negative online consumer reviews

Bettina Lis (Chair of General Business Administration, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany)
Maximilian Fischer (Chair of General Business Administration, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 22 January 2020



This study aims to investigate if different types of negative electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) have various negative effects on the attitude of the consumer toward a product (Laptop) and whether this newfound attitude remains unaffected by the subsequent influence of positive eWOM.


A quantitative study in Germany was conducted. In the two-part experimental setting, first, a factorial repeated-measures between-subjects design was used in which the types of negative eWOM have been manipulated. The second part is characterized by a mixed between–within subjects design to test the durability of attitudinal changes.


The results demonstrate that destructive and ethical eWOM only provoke a small decline in consumer attitude compared to functional product criticism. Furthermore, the examination shows that renewed positive eWOM can improve the attitude, whereas ethical criticism is the most difficult to correct.

Research limitations/implications

The study views negative eWOM differentiated. Researchers could adopt this approach by analyzing online communication more precisely. Ambivalent relationships between negative eWOM and their outcomes can be explained.

Practical implications

The findings lessen the fear of permanent loss of brand reputation caused by negative reviews. The harmful effects on the attitude can be compensated through targeted marketing management actions. The study shows which content companies need to focus on.


Previous literature has predominantly overlooked the complex nature of negative eWOM. Therefore, the study provides first empirical results about the divergent effect of different content types of negative eWOM on consumer attitude toward a product. Additionally, the durability of consumer negativity could be measured over time.



Lis, B. and Fischer, M. (2020), "Analyzing different types of negative online consumer reviews", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 637-653.



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