4 reasons why negative comments drive sales

There is more and more evidence that feedback, even negative ones drive sales:

This may be counter intuitive but actually should come at no surprise to marketing savvy people.

Here are 4 main reasons:

1- Trust

When all comments are positive, people start to wonder whether the business owner had his wife, friends and his dog writing all the reviews or whether the system can be gamed for a few dollars more.

2- Positioning

Not all consumers are the same and what’s negative for  someone may be positive for somebody else.

As an example, if an airline gets negative reviews because everything has to be purchased, from peanuts to drinks to access to the toilets (yes, Ryanair was said to be thinking about it). Well, it you’re a budget traveler and you want to pay only for what you need, it’s actually a plus. You know this airline is the right one for you.  (better to cut this than security).

3- Purple cows

I remember Pr Larreche at Insead presenting a case study on Benetton and its very offensive advertising messages. The truth is that in fashion, 5% market share is huge and it’s OK to “piss off” 95% of the people if the other 5% are really moved and engaged by your message.

You may argue that the negative comments are then not an issue with the product or service but a targeting issue for the messaging.

4- Community re-inforcement.

If you’ve raised or are raising teens , you know that they love it when you loose your temper and make negative comments on how they behave … or dress.


Many communities are built “against” majorities and  strengthen in adversity.

Isn’t that the very driver of Mac versus PC’s, Linux versus Windows … and many others.

Contrast is what makes something visible and known.


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