Truth or Dare? : An exploration of Opinion Spam’s affect on dimensions of Brand Trust

University essay from Luleå tekniska universitet/Institutionen för ekonomi, teknik och samhälle; Luleå tekniska universitet/Institutionen för ekonomi, teknik och samhälle

Abstract: Consumer generated product reviews is a tool growing in popularity among e-retailers. On account of its many benefits and as the internet is continuously taking over as a market place this may come as no surprise. However, deception has found its way in with the intention to further extend these benefits and as reviews keep growing as a go-to tool for the practitioners – so does the phenomenon of brand generated opinion spam. Since legal repercussions of opinion spamming is found in theory to be largely absent, the authors sought for other facets of a brand that could potentially be influenced by this phenomenon. Aiming straight for the heart of a brand, namely brand trust. Taking a foothold in theory on brand trust as a psychological variable, the present thesis aims to explore how revealed opinion spam activities can affect brand trust. Through a qualitative and embedded case study, this thesis thereby aims to explore how brand trust is affected by opinion spam activities unveiled within brands, and ultimately contribute with a deeper understanding of this affect. Data was collected through two focus groups consisting of 14 participants in total, and as found – being engaged in opinion spam activities is a risky business. Brand generated opinion spam is found to influence the antecedents of brand trust negatively. Further research is advised to examine the relationship between opinion spam and brand trust extending beyond an exploratory stage. As antecedents of brand trust can be derived from an array of different constructs, and since brand trust is not uniformly defined in literature - varying sets of findings can surface depending on how brand trust is conceptualized. Brand generated opinion spam itself and its supposed affects ought to be examined further as this contemporary phenomenon is certainly on the horizon for most retailers operating online.   "Dare to be true: nothing can need a lie; A fault which needs it most, grows two thereby." – George Herbert - 1633

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