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Understanding resident city brand disengagement

Andrea Insch (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Menique Stuart (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 12 October 2015




The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors underlying residents’ lack of involvement and engagement with their city brand. This paper addresses the gap in understanding residents’ disengagement from their city brand.


In-depth interviews with 14 residents of Dunedin City, New Zealand, were conducted to identify and understand the factors that underlie residents’ disengagement from their city brand. The interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis.


Four major themes or factors that influence residents’ disengagement were identified: lack of brand awareness/knowledge; lack of brand identification; disapproval of local government actions; and cynical attitudes towards involvement.

Research limitations/implications

This paper focuses on one city brand, with its unique history and institutional context, and the thoughts and experiences of a limited group of residents, thus limiting the applicability of the findings. A longitudinal study would be helpful to identify if residents’ engagement with their place brand change over time and the underlying reasons for such changes.

Practical implications

Extant research highlights the importance of a participatory, co-creative process between citizens and local governments for building city brands. Despite this, this study’s findings demonstrate that there might be several formidable barriers to resident participation in their city’s branding process.


This paper represents a first step in understanding what might trigger or contribute to residents becoming disengaged from their city’s brand. Therefore, this paper considers the “hidden voices” of residents who have become largely disconnected from the city brand.



Insch, A. and Stuart, M. (2015), "Understanding resident city brand disengagement", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 172-186.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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