Negative word of mouth for a failed innovation from higher/lower equity brands: Moderating roles of opinion leadership and consumer testimonials

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College of Business


We investigate how higher versus lower-equity brands attract negative word of mouth (NWOM) from consumers when they fail in the marketplace. We find that the dynamics are conditional on the focal consumers’ desire for opinion leadership (OL) and the presence/absence of supporting testimonials for the focal brand. For example, among higher-OL consumers, higher-equity brands attract more (less) NWOM than lower-equity brands in the absence (presence) of testimonials. We show that the pattern emerges, in part, because these consumers wish to stand apart from others and be correct in their assessments when they spread NWOM, and such opportunities present themselves best when higher-equity brands, without supporting testimonials, fail in the marketplace. We discuss how the results can help brand managers insulate their brands from consumer backlash in the event of brand failures.

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© 2020 Elsevier Inc

Publication Title

Journal of Business Research