Consumers are increasingly using review sites to exchange product information, whereas companies attempt to maintain control of brand-related communications. One method marketers may take to retain control is to remove negative opinions about the brand. This paper aims to examine the impact on consumer’s brand perceptions when negative reviews are censored.
Two experimental studies were conducted to assess whether censorship of a negative online review, in the form of removal by the company, weakens brand relationship quality (BRQ) dimensions.
The results show that censoring negative online reviews has a damaging effect on BRQ. Additionally, the findings indicate that a brand may not be able to increase BRQ when a negative review has been posted, however strategic measures can be taken to diminish the potentially harmful impact.
As many brands still do not adequately understand how to handle negative online reviews, this research offers valuable implications in furthering the examination of negative electronic word-of-mouth and ways to diminish its harmful effects. Additionally, while substantial research focuses on the positive consequences of brand relationships, this research answers calls to examine the negative impacts to BRQ.