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Utilizing an event study methodology of 185 product recall announcements, this study examines to what extent social media hurts a company’s shareholder value in the event of a product recall. In addition, we explore whether a company’s brand equity and engagement in online chatter potentially mitigate the negative effects of social media surrounding the recall. We operationalize four metrics of online word-of-mouth (WOM) that may moderate negative product recall effects: volume, valence, growth rate, and breadth. The findings suggest that product recalls result in significantly negative abnormal returns for firms. Furthermore, the volume, valence and growth rate of online WOM exacerbate this negative effect of a product recall on firm value. Most importantly, we find negative effects of the volume and the valence of online WOM on firm value are lower for brands with strong brand equity. Surprisingly, we find no effect of company involvement in mitigating the potential negative effects of social media during a product recall. Our findings highlight the threats of product recalls and demonstrate that building brand equity may help protect a company in the social media environment.


Required Publisher Statement
© Elsevier. Final version published as: Hsu, L., & Lawrence, B. (2016). The role of social media and brand equity during a product recall crisis: A shareholder value perspective. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 33(1). Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.