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Journal Selections from MSI

Timing Boosts Impact of Positive Online Reviews

Positive reviews are usually valued less than negative, except when the positive review is seen as written closely after the product experience.

Over 60% of customers consult online reviews before making a purchase, but it’s well known that they give more credence to negative than positive reviews. Research published in the Journal of Marketing Research suggests that marketers can overcome this “negativity bias” if the review is seen as posted shortly after the consumption experience. 

In an analysis of 65,531 Yelp.com restaurant reviews, Zoey Chen and Nicholas Lurie found that review value was negatively related to review valence—but that this negative relationship was absent for reviews that contained temporal contiguity cues.

Encouraging consumers to promptly post reviews online can provide contextual cues that increase the impact of positive information.

They suggest that temporal cues change reader beliefs about the cause of the review: reviews that are closer in time to the consumption experience are more attributed to the actual product experience than to reviewer motivations. A series of lab experiments found that these effects extend to choice.

This suggests that marketers can increase the value of positive reviews by encouraging consumers to review products immediately after consumption and to explicitly communicate the recency of their experiences.

Download article from American Marketing Association (free until March 23, 2014)
Temporal Contiguity and Negativity Bias in the Impact of Online Word of Mouth by Zoey Chen and Nicholas Lurie, Journal of Marketing Research (August 2013)

Journal Selections from MSI (March 2014)

Related links

Promotional Reviews: An Empirical Investigation of Online Review Manipulation
Dina Mayzlin (2013) [Conference presentation]

Consumer Insights: Findings from Behavioral Research
Joseph W. Alba, ed. (2011) [Book]

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