Professor of Marketing
Firms sometimes create negative initial impressions on potential customers and then face the problem of determining how to change these initial impressions. The marketing literature offers little guidance on how to do this, and the psychology literature suggests that negative initial impressions are much more resistant to change than positive initial impressions.The authors contrast the efficacy of comparative and noncomparative new information about a target brand when the initial impression of the brand is positive or negative. A body of extant research shows that positive initial impressions change more in the face of comparative information than when the same information is noncomparative and does not mention a competitor.The authors replicate this effect for positive initial impressions but deduce and show that the opposite is true for negative initial impressions. Thus, the authors show that when evaluations are memory based rather than stimulus based and when the initial evaluation is negative, new information that is noncomparative leads to a greater change in consumer attitudes.The authors discuss the implications of this finding for firms that are attempting to recover from negative initial impressions.