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From ‘Beast Jesus’ to KitchenAid: When bad press turns good |

From ‘Beast Jesus’ to KitchenAid: When bad press turns good

Result of the bad press: the number of KitchenAid Twitter followers increased by more than 2,500. (Full disclosure: I am one of them. They have great recipes such as one I just tried for orange, spiced Belgian waffles.)


The real question is will the bad press translate into decreased sales? I’m fairly confident no one will base their next $400 mixer purchase off the story. KitchenAid also now has 2,500 new followers viewing the company’s tweets on the newest and best products from KitchenAid. If I was a betting woman, I’d put my money on the bad press having a positive impact on sales down the line.

So is there a guiding philosophy of when bad press can create a positive response? A recent study has shed a little more light on the subject. Research led by Jonah Berger, a marketing professor from the Wharton School of Business, has shown there are occasions when bad publicity or a bad campaign can actually serve to increase company sales.

As part of Berger’s study, sales patterns of several hundred books reviewed in the New York Times were tracked. As expected, good reviews helped increase book sales, typically ranging from 32 percent to more than 50 percent. Negative book reviews caused sales to drop on average of 15 percent.

But, there was one group of books that, immediately after receiving a bad review, experienced a 45 percent increase in sales. This held even when the criticism was especially scathing. For instance a review that stated, “The characters do not have personalities so much as particular niches in the stratosphere,” helped sales more than quadruple. Why? These books were penned by unknown authors. Berger reasoned that by making potential customers aware of the availability of a product that they would not normally have heard about, even the most negative review will act as a positive one.

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