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Tripat Gill

What impact do new product rumors and pre-announcements have?

This paper examines the potentially positive role of rumors in generating curiosity about new products. It also shows how prior knowledge generated through rumors affects consumer responses to later official pre-announcements about these products.

What You Need to Know

If the product is truly revolutionary (e.g., a solar-powered car), it is better to let ambiguous rumours spread. But for incremental innovations (e.g., the next model of smartphone), it is better to clear any ambiguity and provide specific information to consumers before launch.

More Details

What Did the Researchers Do?

Building on the seminal work by Rogers (2003) on the innovation-adoption process, the authors examine how two factors – product newness (incremental vs radical) and rumor ambiguity (ambiguous vs unambiguous) shape consumer interest (curiosity) toward new products.

Maria Sääksjärvi, Tripat Gill, and Erik Jan Hultink collected information about rumours and blogs discussing the potential features of several innovative products (e.g., the first iPhone, iPad, Nintendo Wii, etc.) over the 10-year period before these products were launched. They also conducted two experimental studies to verify the key characteristics of rumours that have a positive effect on the adoption intentions of these new products, post-launch.

What Did the Researchers Find?

The central finding is that rumour ambiguity plays a key role in increasing the curiosity towards these new products before launch. Interestingly, for radical innovations (e.g., the iPhone or iPad when it was first launched), ambiguous rumours (with unclear, incomplete or contradictory information) led to more curiosity and positive purchase intentions. But for incremental innovations (e.g., iPhone 3 or 4), ambiguous rumours have a negative effect on purchase intentions. Furthermore, the positive effect of rumour ambiguity on purchase intentions carries forward for radical new products even if firms do not formally confirm these rumours in their launch announcements. In summary, ambiguous rumours are beneficial for radical innovations but can be detrimental for incremental innovations.

How Can You Use This Research?

Product managers and marketers in the high-technology industry can use these findings to determine how and when to address rumours.

Want to Know More?

Contact Tripat Gill

Article citation: Maria Sääksjärvi, Tripat Gill, & Erik Jan Hultink, (2017), How rumors and preannouncements foster curiosity toward products, European Journal of Innovation Management, 20(3): 350-371.

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