Focusing on firm-initiated brand communities, the purpose of this paper is to systematically examine the influence of brand community rejection on consumer evaluations and document the underlying mechanism involved.
Four empirical studies were conducted to test the proposed hypotheses. Using a similar 2 × 2 study design, different subject samples and different product categories, Studies 1-3 investigated whether a brand community rejection strategy impacted strong brands differently than weak brands. Furthermore, Study 3 measured reactance as a moderator to explore the underlying process of the impact of a brand community rejection strategy on brand evaluations for different types of brands (i.e. strong vs weak). Study 4 used a 2 × 2 × 2 between-subjects design to examine whether justification would eliminate the negative impact of brand community rejection on subsequent brand evaluations for a weak brand.
Across the four studies, the findings consistently suggest that rejection from firm-initiated brand communities harms weak brands but not strong brands. In addition, by incorporating psychological reactance as a moderator of this effect, the authors uncover the process underlying the interaction between brand community rejection and brand strength. Furthermore, the paper examines the reasons that justify rejection to find a solution that eliminates the negative impact of brand community rejection on brand evaluations for weak brands.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this research provides the first investigation of the effects of a brand community rejection strategy for different brands. The findings could advance the social exclusion literature and shed new light on brand community research.
This research was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71202158 and No. 71572179) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities awarded to the first author, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China research grant (No. 71502172) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities and the Research Funds of Renmin University of China (No. 14XNF051) awarded to the second author. The two authors contributed equally to this research.
Wang, L. and Ding, Y. (2017), "An exemption for strong brands: the influence of brand community rejection on brand evaluation", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 51 No. 5/6, pp. 1029-1048. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-12-2015-0876
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