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Title: Positive versus negative electronic word-of-mouth. An EVM research about the effects of both positive and negative electronic word-of-mouth (eVOM) on both high- and low-BESC consumers' attitudinal and behavioural loyalty toward brands.
Authors: Bruggen, Niels van
Keywords: Customer loyalty
Experimental Vignette study
Relationship Marketing
Issue Date: 3-Jul-2017
Publisher: Open Universiteit Nederland
Abstract: Purpose – C2C interactions through Social Network Sites (SNSs) disrupt company’s communications and influence each other’s attitudes and behaviours towards products and brands. Because studies have shown the significant effects of electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM) on consumer’s behaviour and attitude, companies have increasingly put effort in promoting and managing eWOM within their communication strategy mix. More knowledge about the way eWOM works is needed to enhance the way companies deal with this part of their communication strategy. This paper aims to examine the effects of eWOM through SNSs on customer brand loyalty. Moreover, this paper aims to investigate the differences in effects depending on either positive or negative eWOM. It also seeks to examine how high-BESC (Brand Engagement in Self-Concept) consumers react on brand-related stimuli compared to low-BESC consumers in the process of relationship development. Research methodology– A quantitative vignette study was used to collect the data, based on a mixed design allowing both within-subjects analyses (pre- and post-test) and between-subjects analyses (positive versus negative eWOM). Vignette studies combine the traditional survey with a vignette experiment. A total of 276 smartphone users participated in this research (138 facing negative and 138 facing positive eWOM). Because every participant did both a pre-test and a post-test, a total of 552 observations were collected. The paper adopted the structural equation modeling (SEM) approach to test the hypotheses with respect to the process of customer relationship development and used SPSS22 for regular statistical techniques to analyze the differences in effects depending on either positive or negative eWOM. Findings – The results support the so called ‘negativity bias’, suggesting that, overall, negative eWOM has more effect than positive eWOM. The results also show that positive and negative word-of-mouth referral has an asymmetric influence on emotions, attitudes and behaviour. Our study shows that consumers react differently on positive and negative eWOM. Positive eWOM affects attitudinal loyalty significantly more than it affects behavioural loyalty. This is in contrast to negative eWOM, which affects behavioural loyalty significantly more than it affects attitudinal loyalty. The paper finds no support for the difference in effect of eWOM on both high- and low-BESC consumers. However, our results suggest that high-BESC consumers show a significantly stronger relation between trust and attitudinal loyalty and between attitudinal loyalty and behavioural loyalty compared to low-BESC consumers. This suggests that high-BESC consumers convert their trust and emotional attachment towards a brand more often into behavioural intentions, like (re)purchase of a brand or word-of-mouth referral. Originality– The paper adds to the existing literature by detangling the complex effects of positive and negative eWOM on satisfaction, trust, attitudinal loyalty and behavioural loyalty. In particular, as far as we know this is the first study to simultaneously examine the positive and negative effects of eWOM on attitudinal and behavioural loyalty. This study investigates the effect of eWOM in three ways:  The negativity bias in eWOM messages;  The asymmetry in effects of positive and negative eWOM on attitudes and behaviour;  The difference in eWOM influence between high- and low-BESC consumers.
Appears in Collections:MSc Management Science

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