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Felt discrimination increases offensiveness of stereotyped out-group depictions

Roland L Leak (Department of Marketing, Transportation and Supply Chain, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, United States)
Omar P Woodham (Department of Marketing, Transportation and Supply Chain, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, United States)
George W Stone (Department of Marketing, Transportation and Supply Chain, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, United States)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 12 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the effects of minorities’ who experienced discrimination on perceptions of offensiveness tied to brand imagery that stereotypically depicts other minorities classified as out-group members.

Design/methodology/approach

Study 1 utilizes factor analysis to develop dependent variables, and a path analysis to model relationships between the focal independent variable (IV) and dependent variable (DVs). Study 2 uses an experimental approach analyzing data with ANOVA and bootstrapping methodologies.

Findings

Minorities who report experiencing more discrimination perceive more offensiveness tied to branding containing overt stereotypical depictions of out-groups. This effect is mediated through a perceived sympathy for the out-group. However, while some minorities perceive these branded logos as relatively more offensive, minorities, as a group, do not perceive these stereotyped logos as overly offensive.

Research limitations/implications

Minorities not depicted in or alluded to in stereotypical imagery associated with a brand may be a valuable consumptive bloc that can be recruited to oppose such uses of stereotypes. This research highlights that any sympathy that these minorities report holding for depicted minority groups may be important to future targeted communications. Brand managers may need to aggressively defend the brand against negative attributions derived from non-depicted minorities’ felt sympathy. Depicted minorities fighting to remove stereotypical imagery in brands may be able to leverage non-depicted minorities’ expressed sympathy to form coalitions. Depicted minorities’ communications, however, may need to increase issue relevance to non-depicted minorities.

Originality/value

This research explores how non-affected groups perceive stereotypes infused in branding. It demonstrates that, depending on past experiences, these individuals may defend against a perceived social threat targeted at a societal out-group.

Keywords

Citation

Leak, R.L., Woodham, O.P. and Stone, G.W. (2015), "Felt discrimination increases offensiveness of stereotyped out-group depictions", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 26-33. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-03-2014-0902

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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