عنوان مقاله [English]
Objective: Consumers-brand relationship is a well-documented phenomenon in the marketing and consumer behavior field. The objectives of relational marketing strategies focus on high customer retention rates, which depend on superior service delivery . Unfortunately, the unique characteristics of services often make error-free service an unrealistic goal because same as human beings, brands sometimes can do wrong and, therefore, hurt a consumer– brand relationship. It is inevitable even for famous and successful brands. The last few decades have seen a number of brand transgressions that have challenged corporations like exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone batteries, Wells Fargo's fake accounts, and the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal. Brand transgression not only causes customer dissatisfaction in the short term, but also negatively affects the relationship with customers in the long run. The pervasiveness of brand transgression evidences the drastic need for empirical research into how people perceive and respond to such events. So, it’s necessary to be familiar with this concept, its effect on consumer behaviors to implement suitable response strategy after brand transgression. There has been a swell of interest in, branding, literatures relevant to the role of brand transgression and consumers’ responses to such events. This concept has been introduced and studied seriously since 2004. The purpose of this article is to contribute to the branding literature by examining the moderating role of brand image in shaping consumers' responses and behavior after brand transgression and brand response strategy. In addition, this article examines the case of brand transgression, how forgiveness mediates the interaction effect of apology appeal and brand image on consumers’ reaction. This study also examines how (in) consistency between the apology appeal (emotional or informational) and the brand image (warmth versus competent) impacts the effectiveness of response strategy in the context of a brand transgression and influences consumer response and behaviors. A conceptual model of this research was not studied before in Iran or in the world.
Methodology: A full factorial experimental design 2 (brand image: warmth vs. competence) × 2 (apology appeal: emotional vs. Informational) between groups design was employed. 146 students and graduates of Tehran universities are randomly assigned to conditions of pre-test and main test of this research. Data is gathered by questionnaire. ANOVA and Regression analysis has been used for data analysis in SPSS.
Result: The results demonstrate that the 2-way interaction is significant. So emotional apology appeal is suited for warmth brands while the informational apology appeal is equally suited for competence brands in the case of brand transgression. Yet, informational apology leads to more trust. Also, forgiveness mediates the brand image x apology appeal interaction on consumer responses and behaviors.
Finding: The finding provides new insights about the relationship between consumers’ brand perceptions and their responses toward brand transgression and brand response strategy. The findings also yield specific guidelines for managers about how to preserve the brand after transgression to foster ongoing customer behavior.