Anticipation, Anger, Trust... How Do Consumers Feel about your Brand and How to Leverage their Sentiments

The sentiments your brand should express to increase electronic word of mouth depend on its brand personality

Expectativa, enojo, confianza… ¿qué sienten los consumidores por tu marca y cómo usarlo a tu favor?

The Internet has completely renewed consumers’ behaviors in different market settings. Social media has increased the power of consumers’ brand relationships, now consumers can exchange brand opinions in real-time. Making it urgent for companies to extract the essence and sentiments of consumers’ online conversations. Companies spend worldwide up to 43 USD billion on their social media advertising campaigns and they need to assure their investments yield positive returns.

For this purpose, we researched the effect of sentiments expressed by consumers in social media on the electronic word-of-mouth. This research paper is entitled “Consumer sentiments toward brands: the interaction effect between brand personality and sentiments on electronic word of mouth” and is now published in the Journal of Marketing Analytics.

We also relied on the concept of brand personality, which refers to human characteristics associated with a brand. In the Marketing literature, there are five big dimensions of brand personality (sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness). We took into account the brand personality since the sentiments expressed are likely to have different effects depending on the personality.

We collected more than 50,000 twitter brand posts for the 100 most valuable global brands and conducted a sentiment analysis, which refers to the interpretation and classification of the eight basic sentiments (anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise, and trust) within text data using text analysis techniques. We analyzed the data using sophisticated regression and classification analytical models.

Our study finds that brand personality is a framework that helps a company shape consumer’s feelings toward brands. On the table, we show the sentiments that increase or decrease e-WOM depending on the dimensions of brand personality.

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The main finding of our research is that the sentiments that increase or decrease e-WOM depend on the personality of the brand. Not all positive emotions have a positive effect on all brands and not all negative emotions have a negative effect on all brands. For a sincere brand, such as Dove, the positive sentiment of joy surprisingly decreases e-WOM because consumers do not believe in excessive emotions for sincere brands, on the other hand, the sentiment of joy has a positive effect on brands with an exciting personality. For a rugged brand, such as Harley-Davidson, the negative sentiment of disgust increases e-WOM.

Brand managers can use these results to improve brand communications with consumers through social media and traditional media. Our study shows that managers operating an exciting brand can use the sentiment of anger in their advertising to generate a positive effect on consumers. However, if they manage a competent or sophisticated brand, then the anger sentiment in messages would generate a negative effect. For an exciting brand, such as Ferrari, if managers use trustful sentiments in advertising, then it generates a negative effect on consumers. The reason is that clients for this personality dimension do not aim for trust. They seek to feel strong emotions with the brand. However, for competent brands, such as Intel or Dell, if managers use the sentiment of trust, then the effect is positive because consumers need to feel safe with the brand.

Our results imply that brand managers should position their brands with a clear personality in the marketplace, not only to differentiate themselves from competitive brands but also to identify the sentiments that would increase their e-wom.

Our findings also have implications for prediction purposes. Our analyses showed that our analytical models have good performance, our regression models showed that marketers can explain approximately 20% of their e-WOM based on brand personality and consumer sentiments. Managers can rely on the proposed models to predict the success of their social media marketing strategies.

In conclusion, brand managers, community managers, and other advertising agents could benefit from the insights of this research. They can examine the personality type of their brand and apply the customer sentiments discussed in this research to generate positive effects on their consumers. Brand managers rely on brands’ visual change for repositioning purposes (logo, slogan, colors, etc.). However, based on these findings, we argue that brand managers can also rely on sentiments when repositioning their brand. They should communicate and express the sentiments that are positively related to the brand personality dimensions they aim consumers to associate their brand with.

As the digital environment gets more complex for companies, brand managers should be able to feel, watch, and listen to the sentiments their consumers express about their brands, in order to build a successful social media brand strategy.

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