This Product Seems Better Now: How Social Media Influencers’ Opinions Impact Consumers’ Post-failure Responses

Anshu Suri, Bo Huang, and Sylvain Sénécal
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 27, Number 3, 2023, pp. 297-323.


Extant research on social media influencers primarily focuses on the prepurchase stage (i.e., how influencers affect consumers’ purchase intentions), while overlooking the postpurchase stage. In this research, we investigate how the valence of an influencer’s product review can impact consumers’ affective states after a dissatisfactory experience with the product. Specifically, two rival hypotheses, based on Social Contagion theory and cognitive dissonance theory, respectively, are tested to assess whether an influencer’s positive (vs. negative) review about the same product can improve consumers’ affect. Results from automatic facial expression analysis and sentiment analysis show that an influencer’s positive (vs. negative) review leads to an improvement in consumers’ post-failure affect. Reconciling the two theories, the authors show that the improvement in consumers’ post-failure affect is a result of their improved attitude toward the product, following an influencer’s positive review. In addition, findings suggest this effect is moderated by the level of trust in the influencer, as well as the severity of the product failure. The results also show an important managerial outcome: An improvement of consumers’ post-failure affect (i.e., happiness) leads to a decrease in consumers’ willingness to share negative word-of-mouth.