March 9, 2011, 1:15 PM

Bad news travels fast

25% of consumers say they are far more likely to share bad experiences than good ones.

Allison Enright

Editor

Lead Photo

Word-of-mouth recommendations is a popular term today, but consumers’ real power may be in their condemnations. More than one in four (26%) consumers say they are far more likely to spread word of negative experiences to friends, family and coworkers than they are to spread news of positive experiences, according to a consumer survey from Colloquy, a loyalty marketing news source.

The survey of 3,295 consumers also revealed further bad news. It found that 31% of a company’s most loyal consumers—Colloquy calls these consumers WOM Champions because they are the most engaged and willing to recommend a product or service—are more likely to share information about a bad experience than consumers in any other category. The average across all consumer groups is 26%. “WOM Champions can spread the good word or switch to ‘Madvocacy’ mode, depending on the treatment they receive,” says Jim Sullivan, a Colloquy partner.

The next group with the highest propensity to spread the bad word is affluent consumers, 30% of which say they are far more likely to spread news of a bad experience than a good one.

To quell consumer negativity, Colloquy advises companies to provide opportunities for customers to engage in a conversation with the brand, and to do so in an open forum where others can voice their opinions, such as through social media or online communities.

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