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Durham e-Theses
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Negative brand publicity threatens consumers’ self-esteem and social image, that leads to brand embarrassment. As the emotion of embarrassment has been linked to a variety of unfavourable consumer behaviour, such as brand switching (Romani, Grappi, and Dalli, 2012), this thesis investigates what factors elicit brand embarrassment, and how consumers use brand remedial offer to cope with the effects of theses psychological threats and mitigate the negative self-conscious emotion.
Drawing from a cognitive appraisal theory, this thesis developed a framework to identify the relationship between consumer-brand relationship quality, brand embarrassment, and repurchase intentions, and the distinctive roles played by brand embarrassment type and restorative justice. Two quantitative studies were carried out in the UK using a scenario-based experimental design. Automobile and apparel products were chosen as these were high involvement products in the consumer market. Study 1 aimed to examine what factors influence the strength of brand embarrassment in an automobile product context, and study 2 investigated how the brand embarrassment be recovered in an apparel product context. Conditional process analysis, structural equation modelling, and variance analyses were used to analyse the data.
Results of study 1 show that low quality of brand relationship and high perceived severity increase the level of brand embarrassment when consumers encounter negative publicity of a brand. The role of social presence and social absence moderates the relationships, that public brand embarrassment and private brand embarrassment occur. Study 2 extends the findings of study 1, the results depict that after a brand communicates remedial strategy to the consumers, restorative justice can resume consumer loyalty through brand relationship and emotion recovery. The emotion recovery is an important factor to explain the positive relationship between brand relationship quality and repurchase intentions. The brand embarrassment type (public vs. private) demonstrates an interaction effect for the mediating role of emotion recovery on repurchase intentions. When consumers receive all the brand remedial tactics, the strength of brand embarrassment is greatly reduced and be recovered.
This thesis provides both theoretical and managerial contributions. First, the embarrassment literature has been extended to negative brand publicity context. Public and private brand embarrassment elicit in the cognitive appraisal process. Second, brand relationship quality plays an important role in the psychological and recovery process in the brand embarrassment model. To cope with the feeling of brand embarrassment and facilitate the loyalty towards the brand, restorative justice increases repurchase intentions, through the brand relationship quality and emotion recovery. The effects of mediating role of emotion recovery on future behaviour depends on whether consumers experience public brand embarrassment or private brand embarrassment. These findings contribute to Lazarus’s (1991) cognitive appraisal theory by adding consumer-brand relationship and perceived justice in the consumers’ cognitive appraisal process.
In a practical contribution, the evaluation of perceived justice in a branding context is different from a service or product failure. Embarrassed consumers evaluate the brand remedial tactics from the combination of procedural, distributional, and interactional dimensions instead, which further extends the understanding of Rawls’s (1971) justice theory. Brand managers can design and communicate comprehensive brand remedial tactics, focusing full compensation from relational and emotional perspectives, to mitigate consumers’ self-esteem and social image threats and feeling of brand embarrassment caused by the negative brand publicity.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Business > Management and Marketing, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Jun 2021 16:30

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