This paper aims to explore the impact of an overlooked variable, brand personality, as a basis for brand forgiveness and recovery following brand failures.
Data were collected via three on-line surveys using Amazon Mechanical Turk, including a total of 475 respondents (125, 113 and 237) and using a 2 × 2 between-subjects factorial design.
Results show that a brand’s dominant personality (warm vs competent) elicits different expectations regarding brand performance, and that surprisingly, consumers more readily forgive, rather than censure, brand failures which violate their expectations. Further, this effect exists independent of the consumer’s relationship with the brand. These findings occur across different brands (both fictitious and real), manipulations of brand personality and brand failure-type and indices for brand forgiveness. Results indicate the interactive effect of brand personality and failure-type was mediated by brand credibility, while consumers’ desire to re-evaluate the brand served as a moderator.
This research demonstrates that while brand failures are largely considered from a negative perspective, brand personality can serve to bolster consumer perceptions of brands post-failure. Further, and separate from strong consumer-brand relationships, brand personality serves as an important signal for consumer expectations and plays a pivotal role in post-failure forgiveness and behavioral intentions.
This study contributes to the literature by introducing and testing the role brand personality plays, independent of an existing and strong consumer-brand relationship, in consumer response to brand failure. Further, the mediator of and a moderator for this effect are identified.
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