Positive or Negative - Which Type of Online Reviews Are More Important?

July 30, 2018 / Shamit Patel, Managing Director

In the Information Age, people are beginning to rely less on advertising and traditional marketing efforts and more on the reviews they read on various social media platforms.  With opinions coming in many different forms (self-disclosure and quality of review being two of many), Bronner and Hoog (2013) dove deeper into this topic while focusing on travel/vacation related companies to understand how these reviews drive consumer behavior.  Among other variables, they measured the valance (or impact) of positive, mixed and negative reviews.  What they found was that when deciding on a vacation, positive and mixed reviews had more value to consumers in the decision-making process than negative ones, which directly contradicts with other areas of research that suggest negative reviews make more of an impact on a consumer than positive ones, generally speaking.

What does this mean for marketers?

Given the seemingly contradictory findings of this study, there is an important message for marketers of all industries, not just travel.  If there are a large number of aspects that play a role in the decision-making process of a consumer (such as planning a vacation), positive reviews will hold more value.  If there is a limited number of aspects in the consumer’s decision-making process (such as purchasing a water bottle), negative experiences will hold more value.  Based on the products/services your firm offers, manage the reviews accordingly.  Mitigate the negative ones by addressing the reviewer and increase positive ones by incentivizing or encouraging feedback from satisfied customers.

Thanks for reading,

Shamit Patel


Bronner, F. & de Hoog, R. (2013). Social Media and Consumer Choice. International Journal of Market Research, 56 (1), 51-71