UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How brand hatred shapes consumer perceptions and preferences Johannes, Boegershausen


Consumers frequently experience negative feelings toward brands; yet existing research has predominantly focused on positive engagements with brands. The current dissertation examines one of the most extreme negative feelings—hatred—and explores how hatred for one brand affects competing brands. Many managers seem to believe that consumers’ hatred for a close competitor would not be harmful or might even be beneficial for their brand. Nine studies using qualitative, experimental, and field data demonstrate that in contrast to managers’ beliefs, hatred for a brand leads consumers to eschew close competitors from the same subcategory. Importantly, such preference shifts do not emerge when consumers are indifferent or dissatisfied. As feeling mistreated and exploited is central to hatred, it triggers concerns about self-protection, which results in avoiding close competitors. Several moderators (i.e., greater variance in consumer ratings and the usage of safety-inducing marketing cues) supporting the self-protection based account are identified. Taken together, this dissertation emphasizes that consumer relationships with brands do not operate in a vacuum. Documenting predictable shifts in preferences for competitors as a consequence of hatred for a brand underscores the importance of extending frameworks of consumer-brand connections to incorporate negative connections and account for effects beyond a focal brand. The findings of this dissertation also suggest that hatred – at least in a consumption context – tends to prompt individuals to be primarily concerned about protecting the self rather than annihilating the hated object (i.e., brand). When consumers experience hatred, self-protection concerns appear to be pivotal in shaping their preferences for subsequent consumption unless alternative motives might interfere and produce different preferences.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International