Why Unhappy Customers Are Unlikely to Share Their Opinions with Brands

Chris Hydock, Zoey Chen, Kurt Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


For brands to thrive, they must understand consumer sentiment; if consumers’ likelihood of sharing their opinion is a function of their attitude toward a brand, then brands’ perception of consumer sentiment may be systematically biased. While research in consumer-to-consumer sharing (i.e., word of mouth) suggests that those with extreme attitude are more likely to share than those with neutral attitude (a U-shaped relationship), the relationship between consumers’ attitude toward a brand and their propensity to share with a brand is unknown. In contrast to the U-shaped pattern observed in word of mouth, the authors find a hockey stick–shaped relationship between attitude and sharing with brands (“__/”). Those with positive attitude (vs. neutral attitude) are more likely to share their opinion, but those with negative attitude do not show a similar increase in sharing. The authors show that this pattern emerges because, among consumers with positive (vs. neutral) attitude toward a brand, reciprocity norms drive increased sharing, but among consumers with negative (vs. neutral) attitude, competing mechanisms drive behavior: the desire to vent increases sharing, but at the same time an aversion to criticize others directly deters sharing. The authors test these ideas using a series of studies, including a field study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-112
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • attitude
  • aversion to criticize
  • brand feedback
  • consumer-to-brand sharing
  • reciprocity
  • surveys
  • venting
  • word of mouth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Why Unhappy Customers Are Unlikely to Share Their Opinions with Brands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this