Corporate Responses to the Coronavirus Crisis and their Impact on Electronic-Word-of-Mouth and Trust Recovery: Evidence from Social Media

Yichuan Wang*, Minhao Zhang, Shuyang Li, Fraser Mcleay, Suraksha Gupta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Feb 2021

Structured keywords

  • Covid19

Keywords

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis
  • Electronic Word-of-Mouth (E-WoM)
  • trust recovery
  • vignette-based experimental method
  • data analytics
  • social media

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