This article aims to examine how a person’s thinking style, specifically holistic versus analytic, and a firm’s crisis apology with the remedial solution framed in “why” (vs “how”) terms can interactively impact consumers’ perceived efficacy of the firm to respond to the crisis and their impression or evaluation of the brand.
Hypotheses were tested through three experimental studies involving 308 participants recruited in China. Participants answered survey questions investigating the interactive effects from consumers’ thinking style (culture as a proxy in Study 1, measured in Study 2 or primed in Study 3) and a brand’s crisis apology with the remedial solution framed in “why” (vs “how”) terms on consumers’ perceived efficacy and evaluation of the firm.
The frame of the remedial solution resulting in a higher evaluation improvement depended on a consumer’s thinking style. For holistic thinkers, a “why” (vs “how”) framed remedial solution resulted in a higher evaluation improvement; however, for analytic thinkers, a “how” (vs “why”) framed remedial solution resulted in a higher evaluation improvement. Additionally, the results showed that a consumer’s perceived efficacy of the brand being able to successfully respond to the crisis mediated the interactive effects of the remedial solution framing and thinking styles on the evaluation improvement.
The findings provide evidence that framing of the remedial solution can be leveraged as a tool to reduce negative impact resulting from a brand crisis. Specifically, the results suggest that companies may do well to employ a “why” framed remedial solution, particularly in cases where consumers are likely to process information holistically. Conversely, a “how” framed remedial solution may be effective in situations where consumers are likely to process information analytically.
This research contributes to the literature, being among the first to consider how the remedial solution framing in a firm’s apology can enhance people’s evaluation of the brand and decrease the perceived negative impact resulting from the brand crisis.
This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China Grant (71072059, 71572110) and Shanghai Shuguang Program Grant (13SG16). The authors thank Barbara Loken for helpful comments on earlier versions.
Wang, L., Wang, S., Keller, L.R. and Li, J. (2016), "Thinking styles affect reactions to brand crisis apologies", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 50 No. 7/8, pp. 1263-1289. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-07-2014-0457
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