This study examines how corporate responses to service failure, caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, influence electronic word-of-mouth (E-WoM) and trust recovery around lockdown, using multiple data sources. A dataset of 398 valid COVID-19 announcements from 50 UK food retailers posted on the social media platform Twitter, and 21,960 consumer comments associated with these announcements are analysed using content analysis and social media analytics respectively. In Study 1, we test the effects of corporate crisis response strategy (defensive versus offensive) and response framing (emotional versus rational) on consumer E-WoM (measured as ‘consumer sentiment’). The results reveal that using a defensive corporate response strategy with emotionally framed announcements leads to more positive consumer E-WoM. In Study 2, we advance the findings of Study 1 using a vignette-based experimental design to examine how social media announcements made by food retailing brands influence consumers’ trust recovery. We find that consumer trust recovers significantly when corporate COVID-19 responses are framed in an emotional manner. By drawing upon signalling theory, this study makes an important contribution to public health crisis communication and service failure literature by demystifying consumers’ reactions towards corporate crisis responses amid a pandemic.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This argument is supported by the author's own observations of Aldi's tweets during the COVID‐19 outbreak in the UK.
© 2021 British Academy of Management and Wiley Periodicals LLC
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis
- Electronic Word-of-Mouth (E-WoM)
- trust recovery
- vignette-based experimental method
- data analytics
- social media