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Standing for politics: What consequences for brands?

Abstract

This research explores how corporate political activity (CPA) affects consumers’ online behavior. Recently, brands’ engagement in the political realm has expanded as results of new trends such as globalization and technology advancement. However, it is still not clear how this more activist approach is perceived by consumers. Drawing from attribution theory and corporate hypocrisy, this study explains how consumers’ e-WOM spread once brands develop CPAs in terms of action and communication. A mixed-method design combining a content analysis (Study 1) with an online experiment (Study 2) is presented to obtain a multifaceted representation of the phenomenon. Study 1 provides information on consumers’ reactions toward CPAs shared online, while Study 2 delves deeper to test the effect of CPA on consumers’ negative e-WOM, by comparing a political communication initiative with a political action and proposing perceived genuine concern and hypocrisy as the underlying mechanisms of this effect. This research offers insightful theoretical and practical implications, providing brand managers actionable levers on how to reduce negative e-WOM.

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Correspondence to Laura Grazzini.

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Grazzini, L., Acuti, D., Mazzoli, V. et al. Standing for politics: What consequences for brands?. Ital. J. Mark. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s43039-020-00001-w

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Keywords

  • Corporate political activity
  • Attribution of genuine concern
  • Perceived hypocrisy
  • Consumer negative e-WOM
  • Mixed-method design