Impact of Electronic Word of Mouth on Brand Evaluation in Times of Negative Publicity: A Conceptual Framework

Erandi Jinadari Wattegama, Ping Qing


While Web 2.0 is emanating new forms of business strategies among marketers, it further empowers consumers to communicate, search information and voice criticisms by rating, reviewing, and/or recommending brands via electronic word of mouth (eWOM) with reduced physical and psychological cost. The negative publicity that stems from a product-harm crisis (PHC) significantly affects consumer buying decisions of the brand during post-crisis period. The preliminary extensive literature survey reveals that still there are empirical gaps in the information attribution perspective of PHC and the use of eWOM as a crisis response strategy. Accordingly, the objective of the present study was set as to propose a framework to examine the impact of eWOM on brand evaluation in times of negative publicity. A systematic review was undertaken using published empirical findings under the related study domains. The analysis revealed that negative brand evaluation may induce from negative eWOM and the availability of the firm’s web-based intervention strategy (proactive vs. reactive) in a platform (consumer-generated vs. brand-generated) would be an effective mechanism to mitigate this negative effect. Accordingly, it is suggested a framework together with prepositions for subsequent empirical testing and validation as content provision for the academia and a profitable strategy for crisis management decision-making. Since many of prior studies have used automated, industrial, and service products in western study settings, still there is a vacuum for making a synthesis using different product categories in eastern study settings in order to update the existing knowledge.

Keywords: Consumer Generated Content, Product-harm Crises, Situational Crisis Communication Theory, Web-based Intervention Strategy

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