The role of betrayal in the response to value and performance brand crisis

Abstract

Previous research on brand crisis has introduced the difference between a values-related crisis and a performance-related crisis. Across two experimental studies, we extend current research by demonstrating how self-brand connectedness increases people’s negative behavioural reactions when the brand is involved in a values-related crisis while it protects the brand when it is involved in a performance-related misdeed. We test these mechanisms introducing the mediating role of brand betrayal, the moderation of the personal relevance of the crisis domain (Study 1) and the moderation of the cause of the self-brand connectedness (Study 2). Our findings contribute to the literature by demonstrating that, through the mediation of perceived brand betrayal, a strong connectedness between the consumer and the brand may aggravate behavioural reactions to relevant misdeed in values-related domain especially when the cause of the strong relationship is induced by a central trait of consumer’s identity.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Notes

  1. 1.

    Two pre-tests were conducted to select two ethical domains and two clothing-related performance properties that were perceived as disparate in terms of personal relevance. A sample of 80 US consumers (58% female, mean age 43) was asked to spontaneously rank 5 ethical issues from the most to the least personally relevant. Of these participants, 62 (78% of the sample) designated environmental protection the most relevant ethical issue, and 46 (58%) designated bullying the least relevant. Another sample of 88 US consumers (58% female, mean age 43) was asked to spontaneously rank 5 performance properties that they considered when purchasing clothing, from the most to the least personally relevant. Of these participants, 71 (81% of the sample) designated the quality of the material the most relevant feature, and 42 (48%) designated durability as the least relevant.

  2. 2.

    Participants rated the performance-related nature of the crisis (Msubstandard materials = 5.12 vs Mdurability = 4.98 vs Mpollution = 2.52 vs Mbullying = 2.01; F (1, 480) = 13.83; p < .05) and the values-related nature of the crisis (Msubstandard materials = 3.12 vs Mdurability = 3.18 vs Mpollution = 5.32 vs Mbullying = 6.01; F (1, 480) = 14.54; p < .05) as expected. Participants rated the relevance of the values-related and performance-related crises in line with expectations and consistently with the pre-test results (Mpollution = 5.62 vs Msubstandard materials = 5.56 vs Mbullying = 3.12 vs Mdurability = 2.98; F (1, 480) = 12.54; p < .05). We also found significant differences in self-brand connectedness across the brands (MhighSBC = 4.89, MlowSBC = 2.40, t (120) = − 13.43, p < .001).

  3. 3.

    Descriptive analysis (see Fig. 2) shows that in the values-related crisis domain, negative word of mouth is a little higher in low SBC/low relevance condition (5.28) than in high SBC/high relevance condition (5.12), but post hoc analysis shows that the difference is not statistically significant (p > .05). The same analysis shows that negative word of mouth is significantly higher in low SBC/low relevance condition (5.28) than in low SBC/high relevance condition (4.67; p < .05). This result may suggest that in the values-related crisis domain, the SBC is a stronger driver of consumer intention to spread negative word of mouth than the relevance of the crisis domain. This assumption is supported also by the size effect analysis on negative word of mouth. The size effect of SBC (d = 0.10) is higher than that for the relevance of the crisis domain (d = 0.02).

  4. 4.

    As with the results of Study 1, we consider only high-relevance issues; as for low-relevance ones, we did not find any significant differences across conditions.

  5. 5.

    Ratings of self-brand connectedness did not vary significantly across conditions (MCSR connectedness = 5.37 vs Mperformance connectedness = 5.01; t (3, 304) = − .117; p > .05). The perception of the cause of consumer self-brand connectedness differs significantly between the two groups where self-brand connectedness was manipulated. This applies both to the items measuring CSR as the main cause of self-brand connectedness (MCSR connectedness = 5.92 vs Mperformance connectedness = 4.04; t (2, 152) = 2.68; p < .01) and to the items measuring performance as the cause of self-brand connectedness (MCSR connectedness = 3.94 vs Mperformance connectedness = 5.37; t (2, 151) = 6.05; p < .01).

References

  1. Aaker, J., Fournier, S., & Brasel, S. A. (2004). When good brands do bad. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(1), 1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ahluwalia, R., Burnkrant, R. E., & Unnava, H. R. (2000). Consumer response to negative publicity: The moderating role of commitment. Journal of Marketing Research, 37(2), 203–214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Antonetti, P., & Anesa, M. (2017). Consumer reactions to corporate tax strategies: the role of political ideology. Journal of Business Research, 74, 1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Antonetti, P., & Maklan, S. (2016). An extended model of moral outrage at corporate social irresponsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 135(3), 429–444.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Baghi, I., & Gabrielli, V. (2019). The role of crisis typology and cultural belongingness in shaping consumers’ negative responses towards a faulty brand. The Journal of Product and Brand Management, 28(5), 53–70.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bonifield, C., & Cole, C. A. (2008). Better him than me: social comparison theory and service recovery. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36(4), 565–577.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Cheng, S. Y., White, T. B., & Chaplin, L. N. (2012). The effects of self-brand connections on responses to brand failure: a new look at the consumer–brand relationship. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22(2), 280–288.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Dawar, N., & Lei, J. (2009). Brand crises: the roles of brand familiarity and crisis relevance in determining the impact on brand evaluations. Journal of Business Research, 62(4), 509–516.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Dutta, S., & Pullig, C. (2011). Effectiveness of corporate responses to brand crises: the role of crisis type and response strategies. Journal of Business Research, 64(12), 1281–1287.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Escalas, J. E. (2004). Narrative processing: Building consumer connections to brands. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14(1/2), 168–180.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Escalas, J. E., & Bettman, J. R. (2005). Self-construal, reference groups, and brand meaning. Journal of Consumer Research, 32(3), 378–389.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Finkel, E. J., Rusbult, C. E., Kumashiro, M., & Hannon, P. A. (2002). Dealing with betrayal in close relationships: does commitment promote forgiveness? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(6), 956–974.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Fisher, R. J. (1993). Social desirability bias and the validity of indirect questioning. Journal of Consumer Research, 20(2), 303–315. https://doi.org/10.1086/209351.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Folkes, V. S., & Kamins, M. A. (1999). Effects of information about firms’ ethical and unethical actions on consumers’ attitudes. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 8(3), 243–259.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Fournier, S. (1998). Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research, 24(4), 343–373.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Grappi, S., Romani, S., & Bagozzi, R. P. (2013). Consumer response to corporate irresponsible behavior: moral emotions and virtues. Journal of Business Research, 66(10), 1814–1821.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Grégoire, Y., & Fisher, R. J. (2008). Customer betrayal and retaliation: when your best customers become your worst enemies. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36(2), 247–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Grégoire, Y., Laufer, D., & Tripp, T. M. (2010). A comprehensive model of customer direct and indirect revenge: understanding the effects of perceived greed and customer power. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 38(6), 738–758.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Grewal, D., Krishnan, R., Baker, J., & Borin, N. (1998). The effect of store name, brand name and price discounts on consumers’ evaluations and purchase intentions. Journal of Retailing, 74(3), 331–352.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Hayes, A. F. (2017). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: a regression-based approach. Guilford publications.

  21. Huber, F., Vollhardt, K., Matthes, I., & Vogel, J. (2010). Brand misconduct: consequences on consumer–brand relationships. Journal of Business Research, 63(11), 1113–1120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Jordan, J. J., Sommers, R., Bloom, P., & Rand, D. G. (2017). Why do we hate hypocrites? Evidence for a theory of false signaling. Psychological Science, 28(3), 356–368. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797616685771.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Leonidou, L. C., Aykol, B., Hadjimarcou, J., & Palihawadana, D. (2018). Betrayal in buyer–seller relationships: exploring its causes, symptoms, forms, effects, and therapies. Psychology and Marketing, 35(5), 341–356.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Lisjak, M., Lee, A. Y., & Gardner, W. L. (2012). When a threat to the brand is a threat to the self: the importance of brand identification and implicit self-esteem in predicting defensiveness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(9), 1120–1132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Liu, R. L., Sprott, D. E., Spangenberg, E. R., Czellar, S., & Voss, K. E. (2018). Consumer preference for national vs. private brands: the influence of brand engagement and self-concept threat. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 41, 90–100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Mittal, V., Ross Jr., W. T., & Baldasare, P. M. (1998). The asymmetric impact of negative and positive attribute-level performance on overall satisfaction and repurchase intentions. Journal of Marketing, 62(1), 33–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Pullig, C., Netemeyer, R. G., & Biswas, A. (2006). Attitude basis, certainty, and challenge alignment: a case of negative brand publicity. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34(4), 528–542.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Reimann, M., MacInnis, D. J., Folkes, V. S., Uhalde, A., & Pol, G. (2018). Insights into the experience of brand betrayal: from what people say and what the brain reveals. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 3(2), 240–254.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Singh, J. J., Iglesias, O., & Batista-Foguet, J. M. (2012). Does having an ethical brand matter? the influence of consumer perceived ethicality on trust, affect and loyalty. Journal of Business Ethics, 111(4), 541–549.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Sirgy, M. J. (1985). Using self-congruity and ideal congruity to predict purchase motivation. Journal of Business Research, 13(3), 195–206.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Strandvik, T., Rindell, A., & Wilén, K. (2013). Ethical consumers’ brand avoidance. The Journal of Product and Brand Management, 22(7), 484–490.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Trump, R. K. (2014). Connected consumers’ responses to negative brand actions: the roles of transgression self-relevance and domain. Journal of Business Research, 67(9), 1824–1830.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Vassilikopoulou, A., Chatzipanagiotou, K., Siomkos, G., & Triantafillidou, A. (2011). The role of consumer ethical beliefs in product-harm crises. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 10(5), 279–289.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Whelan, J., & Dawar, N. (2016). Attributions of blame following a product-harm crisis depend on consumers’ attachment styles. Marketing Letters, 27(2), 285–294.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Wiggin, K. L., & Yalch, R. F. (2015). Whose fault is it? Effects of relational self-views and outcome counterfactuals on self-serving attribution biases following brand policy changes. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25(3), 459–472.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ilaria Baghi.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Appendix. Measurement model

Appendix. Measurement model

Constructs Study 1 Study 2
Negative word of mouth (from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree)
Study 1 CR = .93, AVE = .82; Study 2 CR = .92, AVE = .80.
  Complain about [Company name] to other people .87 .87
  Spread negative information about [Company name] .92 .89
  Denigrate [Company name] in front of your friends .91 .92
Purchase intentions (from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree)
Study 1 CR = .93, AVE = .81; Study 2 CR = .95, AVE = .86.
  It’s very likely that I will buy products of XXX in the future .88 .92
  I would buy products of XXX the next time .88 .96
  If I were going to purchase clothing I would consider buying XXX brand .96 .91
Brand betrayal (from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree)
Study 2 CR = .98, AVE = .91.
  I felt betrayed by XXX .88 .96
  I felt that XXX broke a fundamental promise to me. .88 .97
  I felt that XXX let me down in a moment of need. .96 .95

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Baghi, I., Gabrielli, V. The role of betrayal in the response to value and performance brand crisis. Mark Lett (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-021-09559-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Brand crisis
  • Self-brand connectedness
  • Brand betrayal, negative word of mouth
  • Purchase intention