Online brand comments: How do they affect consumer decisions?

Dec 13, 2011

Consumer reactions to online comments depend on the number of comments and the reader's orientation (whether it's positive or negative), according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"How individuals make decisions is influenced by their self-regulatory goals," write authors Yeosun Yoon (KAIST Graduate School of Management), Zeynep Gürhan-Canli, and Gülen Sarial-Abi (both Koc University). "According to regulatory focus theory, promotion-focused individuals are likely to be sensitive to gain-related information that involves the presence or absence of positive outcomes. On the other hand, prevention-focused individuals are likely to be sensitive to loss-related information that involves the presence or absence of negative outcomes."

In the authors' first two studies, participants read either two or six consumer commentaries responding to a news story about a newly introduced fictitious brand of MP3 player. The participants then responded with their overall attitude toward the brand, indicating the extent to which they relied on negative and positive commentaries.

When provided with a large number of mixed commentaries, promotion- and prevention-oriented individuals were biased in expected ways, positively or negatively. Under high information loads, individuals' processing capacity was limited so they relied on only a subset of available information to simplify the judgment process. But this changed when only a few commentaries were provided. "When information load is low, individuals have higher cognitive capacity to process inconsistent information," the authors write.

The authors also found that brand names affect consumers' motivational orientation. Favorable brands, like Sony and Sylvania, activated promotion orientation, while less-favorable brands triggered prevention orientation.

"When individuals are provided with few commentaries, they are likelier to process information that is inconsistent with their motivational orientation," the authors write. "We suggest that when consumers read commentaries by others they pay attention to the extent to which they selectively focus on positive or negative information."

Explore further: Less privileged kids shine at university, according to study

More information: Yeosun Yoon, Zeynep Gürhan-Canli, and Gülen Sarial-Abi. "Effect of Regulatory Focus on Selective Information Processing." Journal of Consumer Research: June 2012 (published online August 17, 2011).

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

When will a message of social responsibility backfire?

Jul 14, 2011

Consumers don't react positively to all messages of corporate social responsibility, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. The message needs to line up with consumers' mindsets and understanding of the ...

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

Dec 18, 2014

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

Dec 18, 2014

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

How to teach all students to think critically

Dec 18, 2014

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.