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Halal endorsements: stirring controversy or gaining new customers?

Bodo B. Schlegelmilch (Institute for International Marketing Management, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria)
Mubbsher Munawar Khan (Hailey College of Banking and Finance, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan)
Joe F. Hair (Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, USA)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




Halal food endorsements perceived positively by the focal target group may lead to a negative reaction of consumers that harbor animosity against this target group. For such potentially controversial endorsements, in-group animosity against out-group associated product endorsements could lead to a rejection and even an outspoken disapproval of these food products. The purpose of this paper is to explain what drives in-group reactions to Halal endorsements.


The authors use Social Identity Theory and the Social Dominance Theory in explaining animosity toward out-groups and willingness to buy products with Halal endorsements. Specifically, the authors analyze the reaction of more than 800 in-group majority Christians toward out-group minority Muslim directed Halal endorsements. Following the development of hypotheses and a conceptual model, structural equation modeling is used to measure the relationships between the constructs.


Constructs based on Social Dominance Theory and Social Identity Theory predict animosity toward out-group endorsements, but the relationship between Social Dominance Theory and animosity is much stronger. Animosity is a mediator between these two constructs and willingness to purchase products with out-group focussed endorsements (Halal).

Research limitations/implications

The research has been conducted in one particular country (Austria) and focusses on a specific type of controversial endorsement, namely a religious (Halal) endorsement. Other research contexts (i.e. other countries and/or different types of controversial endorsements) should be used to widen the empirical base and validate the findings.

Practical implications

Marketers should be aware of a possible negative impact of out-group focussed endorsements. In particular, they should be cognizant that racism and ethnocentrism prevailing in a society could reduce the purchase intent of in-groups.

Social implications

Efforts are required to combat the drivers of animosity between in-groups and out-groups. This paper provides insights on how this may be achieved.


This study focusses on a hitherto neglected phenomenon, i.e. controversial endorsements. It uses two alternative theories and advances the understanding of the role of animosity in a domestic consumer setting; an issue that has nearly exclusively been discussed with regard to cross-border purchasing.



Schlegelmilch, B.B., Khan, M.M. and Hair, J.F. (2016), "Halal endorsements: stirring controversy or gaining new customers?", International Marketing Review, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 156-174.



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