Phenomenon of brand hate. Behavioral consequences and managerial implications

Master's Thesis, 2016

59 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

List of Figures

1. Introduction

2. Theoretical Background
2.1 Brand Hate as a Meta-Theoretical Concept
2.2 Basic Branding Theory
2.2.1 Brands and Consumer-Brand Relationships
2.2.2 Extreme Negative Emotions Towards Brands
2.3 Brand Love and Brand Hate
2.4 Interpersonal Hate
2.5 Sternberg’s Theory of Hate Within a Branding Context

3. Methodology
3.1 Research Method
3.2 Sample and Data Gathering
3.3 Qualitative Content Analysis

4. Findings & Discussion

4.1 The Nature of Brand Hate
4.1.1 Reluctance to Feeling Hate towards Brands
4.1.2 Antecedents of Brand Hate and Dislike Unmet Promises: Service and Product Failure Undesired Self and Reference Group Imagery Corporate wrongdoings and Moral Incongruity
4.1.3 Typical Hate and Dislike Categories and Classification into Sternberg’s Typology
4.2 Behavioral Consequences
4.2.1 Brand Avoidance & Negative WOM as Most Common Brand Hate Behaviors
4.2.2 Low Disposition to Engage in Activism and Online WOM
4.3 Dynamics of Brand Hate

5. Managerial Implications

6. Conclusion




Brand hate can entail a series of consumer behaviors that may result in brand equity loss. The following thesis explores the phenomenon of brand hate through the conduction of in-depth interviews among 20 consumers from a variety of backgrounds. Drawing on theory from social psychology and Sternberg’s (2003) duplex theory of hate, the author presents results with re- gard to the nature of brand hate, the consequences it entails, its development over time, as well as managerial implications to tackle this phenomenon. An important finding is that a significant proportion of consumers is more inclined to feel dislike rather than hate towards brands and that consumers’ disposition to engage in online WOM and activism is particularly low.

List of Abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

List of Figures

Figure 1. Components of interpersonal hate

Figure 2. Extract of interview guide

1. Introduction

The vast amount of literature on positive emotions towards brands gives the impression that the relationships between brands and consumers brim over with attachment, affection, and even burning love1. Yet it would be too simplistic to assume that it is always ‘love, peace and harmony’ between consumers and brands. In fact, research found that negative consumer-brand relationships are more common than positive ones (Fournier & Alvarez, 2012). The predominant focus on positive brand relationships is thus not justified.

Just as with brand love, studies suggest that consumers may also experience extreme negative emotions towards brands that might even result in brand hate (Carroll & Ahuvia, 2006). Brand hate can be defined as “an intense negative emotional affect towards the brand” (Bryson, Atwal, & Hultén, 2013, p. 395) and is likely to result in decreased purchase intent, brand switching and avoidance as well as in the spreading of negative word-of-mouth (WOM) - all behaviors that can directly result in financial losses for the firm. Brand hate is not only costly for firms but also for consumers who have to find another brand and might lose their trust in other brands as well (Donovan, Priester, MacInnis, & Park, 2012). The rise of the internet and social platforms in particular has empowered consumers and allows angry and hateful consumers to blow off their steam publicly through cruel comments, damning reviews, or hate-websites. Such behav- iors represent serious threats to brand equity and have already led to serious brand crises in the past (Thompson & Arsel, 2004; Krishnamurthy & Kucuk, 2008). This makes brand hate be- come a more apparent and relevant phenomenon than ever.

Still, the phenomenon of brand hate as the most extreme form of negative consumer-brand connections has been widely disregarded in research and still lacks a conclusive understanding. Accordingly, this thesis attempts to close the existing gap in literature by exploring the nature of brand hate. Using data from a qualitative study in the form of in-depth interviews as founda- tion and evidence, this thesis will provide answers to the subsequent research questions:

1. How and why do consumers feel hate towards brands?
2. What consequences does it entail?
3. And how does brand hate develop over time?

The provided richer understanding of brand hate will add to marketing’s extensive theory on consumer-brand relationships by broadening its bandwidth of already covered emotions. In or- der to fully understand consumer behavior and drivers of brand choice, research needs to com- prehend all kind of emotions towards brands - not only positive emotions but also negative ones (Keller, 2003). Furthermore, it will aid brand managers to better understand brand-haters as well as to help overcome, weaken, or prevent the feeling of hate towards brands and to avert potential brand equity loss.

Within the thesis the problem will be approached with help of the following structure: the sub- sequent chapter will define brand hate by first providing a brief overview of the extensive branding theory that has been gathered in marketing literature and secondly by looking into the emotion of hate. As literature on hate towards brands is limited, the concept of brand hate will be approached by looking into literature from the fields of psychology and sociology that have both explored hate on an interpersonal level. Thereafter, the methodology to obtain qualitative data will be outlined in chapter three. Chapter four will consist of the analysis and interpretation of the findings obtained through the chosen qualitative research technique. Based on these find- ings, chapter five derives managerial implications. The final chapter will then comprise the thesis’ main findings, acknowledge limitations and provide impulses for future research.

2. Theoretical Background

The following chapter will provide a review of relevant literature and theories with regard to brand hate by first discussing streams of basic branding theory, consumer-brand relationships, and emotions towards brands. After this, the review will narrow down to literature that deals with the more specific branding phenomena brand love and brand hate. Subsequently, the chap- ter will pass into the literature of psychology and sociology in order to discuss different defini- tions and theories of interpersonal hate. Sternberg’s (2003) theory of duplex hate will be desig- nated as the most elaborate and most suitable theory for the exploration of brand hate. The theory will be discussed and applied to a branding context in the last part of this chapter.

2.1 Brand Hate as a Meta-Theoretical Concept

Brand hate as a phenomenon is embedded in various theories and key concepts within branding, consumer behavior, and psychology research. Therefore, it seems accurate to refer to brand hate as a ‘meta-theoretical’ concept. As research tends to focus mainly on emotions that are positive in nature, hate has been studied to a less rigorous extent in sociology and psychology than for instance theories of love (Blum, 1997; Fitness, 2000; Sternberg, 2003). One reason for this is that studying love is much more joyful and emotionally satisfying for scientists than studying hate (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008). The same is true in marketing and consumer research, where much focus has been paid to positive consumer-brand emotions and relationships, such as brand attachment (e.g., Park et al., 2010; Thompson et al., 2005), brand loyalty (e.g., Dick & Basu, 1994), or the extreme form of brand love (e.g., Ahuvia, 2005; Batra et al., 2012).

2.2 Basic Branding Theory

The concept of brands appears simple at first glance, but a satisfying definition is still disputed within academic circles. In the following chapter the thesis’ understanding of brands will thus be disclosed. Furthermore, the relevant domain of consumer-brand relationships (CBR) will be taken into account and amplified with insights on extreme emotions which represent important determinants of CBRs.

2.2.1 Brands and Consumer-Brand Relationships

Seminal authors of branding literature (e.g., Aaker, 1991; Kotler, Armstrong, Saunders, & Wong 1996; Keller, 1993) make use of an element-based definition given by the American Marketing Association (AMA) that defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers" (AMA, 1995). In line with a more consumer-based definition by Aaker (1996, 1997), Gardner and Levy (1955), Fournier (1998), Homburg (2012), and Kapferer (2008), this thesis defines brands as socio-psychological phenomena that consist of a set of associations in consumers’ minds: Brands not only reflect the product itself but a set of associations, emotions, and expe- riences that consumers have with the product, for instance accompanying marketing activities (Keller & Lehmann, 2006).

Based on this, consumers form relationships with brands. For a better understanding of these relationships, marketing and consumer behavior research has frequently used interpersonal re- lationships as a metaphor and explanation aid (Albert, Merunka, & Valette-Florence, 2008; Swaminathan & Dommer, 2012). Though the relationship between consumers and brands dif- fers from person-to-person relationships, for instance by involving a monetary exchange and through their unidirectional nature (Shimp & Madden, 1988), marketing research has frequently borrowed frameworks from the interpersonal relationship literature. This approach is legitimate as it has been found that consumers often assign human characteristics and personalities to brands, resulting from an urge to humanize objects (Aaker, 1997; Shimp & Madden, 1988). This so-called animism and anthropomorphism lets brands become personalities with certain human-like attributes and characteristics (Fournier, 1998; Avis, 2011): American fashion brand Abercrombie&Fitch, for instance, could be perceived as a good-looking, cool, and popular teen- ager by one customer or as a discriminating, arrogant, and pretentious 20-year-old by another. In order to understand the phenomenon of brand hate in its nature, dynamics, and consequences, models and insights from interpersonal research will be used in this thesis as well. This will be further discussed below in 2.4.

The view of brands as personalities let branding literature move towards a more affective-based perspective of consumer behavior and away from the until then rather cognitive-focused ap- proach (Lazarus, 1991; Peter & Olson, 2010). Through Fournier’s (1998) seminal article on consumer-brand relationships, brands became relationship partners and brand managers’ mar- keting tactics became their behaviors. In her typology Fournier (1998) describes fifteen differ- ent forms of consumer-brand relationships (CBR) that range from committed partnerships, best friendships and secret affairs, over to arranged marriages, enslavements and enmities. Espe- cially the form of enmities, defined as „intensely involving relationship[s] characterized by negative affect and desire to avoid or inflict pain on the other” (Fournier, 1998, p. 362), suggests that there can be such extreme emotions as hate towards brands. Depending on how amicable the bond between consumer and brand is, brand relationships have a differential impact on consumers’ purchase intent and loyalty (Kervyn, Fiske, & Malone, 2012). Yet the first compre- hensive model of CBR that involved consumers’ negative tonality with brands was only offered very recently within Park, Eisingerich, & Park’s (2013) attachment-aversion model. This model comprehends negative relationships with brands that are “accompanied by feelings of contempt, frustration, hatred and aggression” (Park et al., 2013, p. 7).

2.2.2 Extreme Negative Emotions Towards Brands

CBRs can be determined by both internal (e.g., emotions, motivations, and attitudes) and ex- ternal factors (e.g., social, situational, or vendor specific factors) (Schneider, 2013). As market- ing activities have become increasingly emotionalized, for instance through emotional adver- tisings and experiential marketing, many consumers make purchase decisions on grounds of impulsive rather than rational behavior; consequently, emotions play a major role in CBRs and affect consumer behavior crucially (Bagozzi, Gopinath, & Nyer, 1999; Kroeber-Riel & Gröppel-Klein, 2013).

Despite the acknowledgement of negative affect-laden relationships such as enmities (Fournier, 1998), extreme negative emotions towards brands have been investigated scarcely by research- ers. Besides the extensive and typically studied consumer dissatisfaction literature (e.g., Ander- son, 1973; Singh, 1990; Oliva, Oliver, & MacMillan, 1992), publications dealing with negative emotions towards brands have focused on less extreme emotions than hate: Romani, Sadeh, and Dalli (2009), for instance, avoid using the term hate and rather explore negative emotions in general, finding that anger and dislike are the most commonly experienced negative emotions; some studies investigate anti-consumption and brand avoidance (Lee, Motion, & Conroy, 2009; Rindell, Strandvik, & Wilén, 2014), while others explore brand dislike and aversion (Dalli, Romani, & Gistri, 2006; Dalli, Grappi, Romani, & Gistri, 2007; Park et al., 2013; Demirbag-Kaplan, Yildirim, Gulden, & Aktan, 2015) or look into specific emotions such as anger (Gelbrich, 2009). Even though the aforementioned study fields vary among each other, they are all related to hate and all of them belong to a class of sentiments that lead to a tendency to avoid the object of dislike, to aversion, or to hate (McDougall, 1926).

Depending on the strength of their feelings and behaviors, consumers can express different degrees of anti-choice that may range from simple avoidance and aversion of the brand to public boycott and anti-brand activism (Hogg, Banister, & Stephenson, 2009). A number of other pub- lications specifically elaborates on these potential outcomes of negative emotions, such as con- sumer activism (Garrett, 1987; Kozinets & Handelman, 2004; Hollenbeck & Zinkham, 2006) and anti-branding on the internet (Bailey, 2004; Krishnamurthy & Kucuk, 2008; Kucuk, 2008). In contrast, positive extremes of emotions, such as love and attachment, have been projected onto consumer-brand relationships increasingly in recent years (see for instance, Shimp & Mad- den, 1988; Thomson et al., 2005; Carrol & Ahuvia, 2006; Albert et al., 2008; Albert & Merunka 2013; Batra et al., 2012).

2.3 Brand Love and Brand Hate

Carroll & Ahuvia (2006) who explored the antecedents and outcomes of brand love explicitly suggest to explore the same for the dimension of brand hate in the future; they are also the first in attempting to define brand hate as „a distinct and measurable subtype of consumer dissatis- faction“ (p. 84). However, until now only two studies have complied with Carroll & Ahuvia’s (2006) request: Romani, Grappi, Zarantonello, and Bagozzi (2015) investigated the influence of brand hate on consumer activism against brands and Bryson et al. (2013) investigated brand hate towards luxury brands. The latter defined brand hate as “the extreme negative affective component of attitude towards the brand” (Bryson et al., 2013, p. 395). This thesis agrees with their definition, as well as with their approach to integrate brand hate into the concept of attitude towards a brand. The concept of attitude as a core driver of consumer decision making has been explored extensively in marketing research and can be defined as “global and relatively endur- ing (i.e., stored in the long-term memory) evaluations of objects, issues or persons (…)” (Petty, Unnava, & Strathman, 1991, p. 242) - or put more simply: “a person’s overall evaluation of a concept” (Peter & Olson, 2010, p. 128).

Furthermore, Bryson et al. (2013) identified some antecedents of brand hate, such as country of origin, consumers’ dissatisfaction with service, and negative stereotypes of the users of a brand. According to them, the outcomes of brand hate are “the purposeful and deliberate inten- tion to avoid or reject a brand, or even to act out behavior[u]rs that demonstrate this rejection, such as voicing negative feelings, blogging, protesting in public, boycotting, or even sabotage a company property” (Bryson et al., 2013, p. 395). Despite being the first study to explicitly address brand hate, their research is limited, not based on direct empirical evidence, and thus calls for further insights: As their study is limited to luxury products, it is important to extend this perspective also onto regular products. Luxury products are hedonic objects that correlate with concepts like conspicuous consumption, snobbery, and the social signaling effect that is often incorporated in luxury brands’ strategies (Patrick & Hagtvedt, 2008). Hence, luxury prod- ucts differ significantly from conventional products and also evoke very distinct consumer per- ceptions and responses compared to other product categories. For future research, it would be of value to investigate whether brand hate occurs more, less or equally often or differently in non-luxury product categories. Also the second study addressing brand hate conducted by Rom- ani et al. (2015) leaves room for more extensive research in the field: they explicitly suggest the exploration of the effects of brand hate on other consumer reactions than anti-brand activ- ism, e.g. negative WOM and avoidance behavior. This thesis will not be limited to luxury prod- ucts and will disclose other consumer reactions that are less extreme than anti-brand activism, and hence represent a valuable expansion to brand hate research.

Love is commonly viewed as the counterpart of hate; therefore, it is worth mentioning the phe- nomenon of brand love as well. As an extreme emotion it has not lacked in attention in recent years: Research has found that consumers can feel love towards brands (e.g., Fournier, 1998; Whang, Allen, Sahoury, & Zhang, 2004; Ahuvia, 2005; Caroll & Ahuvia, 2006; Albert & Merunka, 2013; Batra et al., 2012; Heinrich, Albrecht, & Bauer, 2012). This finding gives rise to the notion that if consumers can feel love for a brand, they can probably also feel hate towards a brand. This notion, however, still lacks in comprehensive theoretical and empirical evidence.

The existent studies on brand love may serve as an important guideline for future works on brand hate (including this thesis). Nevertheless, it is important to stress that though commonly assumed, hate is not the opposite of love and neither the absence of love (Sternberg, 2003). Instead, the structures between the two are described as being rather complex and multifaceted (Sternberg, 2003). Therefore, the antecedents and outcomes that apply for Batra et al.’s (2012) seminal article and other articles on brand love cannot just easily be transferred onto the concept of brand hate. Still, love and hate are closely related in psychology (Sternberg, 2003). Batra et al.’s (2012) approach to view brand love as a „higher-order construct including multiple cogni- tions, emotions, and behaviors“ (p. 2) will thus be applied onto the concept of brand hate. Just as Batra et al.’s (2012) prototype, which explicitly includes other concepts such as brand at- tachment, loyalty and self-brand connections, this thesis regards brand hate as a construct that involves or goes beyond other related constructs, such as brand dislike, avoidance, aversion, and anti-consumption.

Until now, only Bryson et al. (2013) and Romani et al. (2015) empirically proved the presence of hateful feelings within the context of brands. Bryson et al. (2013) attested brand hate through qualitative research, whilst the work by Romani et al. (2015) remains the only quantitative study to demonstrate brand hate. According to the latter consumers are able to feel hate towards brands when learning about corporate wrongdoings. These hateful feelings are moderated by consumers’ level of felt empathy and trigger consumers’ motivation to engage in anti-brand behavior.

2.4 Interpersonal Hate

In pursuance of understanding how hate towards brands develops, it is also helpful to first look at the more general and interpersonal emotion of hate. Despite being underrepresented in com- parison to love, the emotion of hate has been within the interest of a number of sociologists and psychologists in the past (e.g., Allport, 1954; Izard, 1977; Shaver, Schwartz, Kirson, & O’Con- nor, 1987; Fromm, 1992; Frijda, 1994; Blum, 1997; Ben-Ze’ve, 2000, Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008). Research on hate has been urged by hate-driven events from human history: Massacres and genocides ranging from the holocaust during World War II, to activities of the Ku-Klux- Klan against the black population, on to acts of terrorism that continue to be a problem until today.

Hate not only exists in political, cultural or ethnic conflicts, but also in individuals’ personal relationships, and „is at the heart of any of the world’s most serious problems” (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008, p. 3). Still, hate is not part of the most seminal theoretical models of basic emotions: McDougall (1921), Izard (1977), and Plutchik (1991) each list fear, anger, and dis- gust as basic emotions but not hate (for an overview and comparison of basic emotions theories also see Kroeber-Riel & Gröppel-Klein (2013, p. 114)). According to these theories, hate only arises when at least two basic emotions occur together. For instance, the emotions of disgust and anger lead to hate, as well as the feeling of anger and surprise (Plutchik, 1991). Similar to Plutchik (1991), Izard (1977) views hate as a mix of anger, disgust, and contempt.

„Hate manifests itself in many different ways, from denouncing another person, to imposing economic sanctions on a group, to the extremes of so-called ethnic cleansing and the genocide of entire peoples“ (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008, p. 12). Consequently, hate has been studied within various contexts, such as family constructs (e.g., marriages) (Fitness & Fletcher, 1993; Blum, 1997), within intergroup contexts (e.g., hate crimes and genocide) (Allport, 1954; Stern- berg, 2003; Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008), and within basic emotion research (Ben-Ze’ev, 2000; Fitness, 2000). Literature is still diverse in their opinion about what kind of emotion hate really is: some view hate as a basic emotion (e.g. Fehr & Russell, 1984; Shaver et al., 1987) others view hate as a cluster of related emotions, such as rage, frustration, anger, disgust, contempt, and fear (e.g., McDougall, 1926; Izard, 1977; Fitness & Fletcher, 1993; Ben-Ze’ev, 2000; Stern- berg, 2003, Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008).

Though hate has been discussed extensively in psychology and sociology there are only few theories and no commonly accepted definition of hate (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008). Still, the word hate is used frequently to express a seemingly identical emotion in differing situations: Nazis hated Jews, members of the Ku-Klux-Klan hated Blacks, while at the same time children might as well hate doing their homework, and most people generally hate traffic jams and rainy weather; this underlines the finding that there are different forms, qualities, and strengths of hatred (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008). A more recent definition seems to be the most detailed and most suitable for the purpose of this consumer behavior based thesis: “hate is a negative view of the object of hatred, combined with intense negative feelings toward this object. Hate consists of both emotions and cognitions. The emotions related to hate include dislike, anger, fear, and hostility. The cognitions may include devaluation and the perception of a threat” (Staub, 2005, as cited in Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008, p. 27).

The lack of an agreed-on definition of hate makes it difficult for researchers to develop theories. However, also for love there is no commonly accepted definition, yet there are multiple theories of love. With regard to hate, many theories deal with hate just as a by-product2, whereas few theories deal with hate directly3. A more detailed and comprehensive theory of hate is provided by Sternberg (2003), who already introduced a theory on love (1986) that has been adapted frequently by marketing and consumer behavior researchers4: Sternberg’s (2003) duplex the- ory of hate includes the basic emotions of anger, fear and disgust and will be discussed in more detail in 2.5. Also Romani et al. (2015), who provide the first and only quantitative study on brand hate, state that Sternberg’s (2003) duplex theory of hate is the most complete theory to date, in order to explain the formation of hate. To the best of my knowledge Romani et al. (2015) represent the only empirical study on negative emotions towards brands that has made use of Sternberg’s (2003) typology so far. The present thesis will do so as well, and base its understanding of hate on Sternberg’s (2003) theory of hate.

Like all other mentioned theories on hate, Sternberg’s (2003) theory was meant for and estab- lished within the context of interpersonal relationships, and not within the context of con- sumer-brand relationships. This leaves room for some concerns that should be acknowledged in advance: Batra et al. (2012), for instance, warn that the application of interpersonal concepts onto brand-related contexts can be problematic, if both theories are not completely analogous. However, though brands are no vital entities like persons, and thus cannot act, think or feel (Fournier, 1998), literature on consumer-brand relationships has come to an understanding that “consumers perceive brands in the same way they perceive people” (Kervyn et al., 2012, p. 1) - a view that is shared by many other seminal authors within the brand research field (e.g., Fournier, 1998; Avis, 2011; Fournier & Alvarez, 2012; Keller, 2012). The view is often based upon Shimp & Madden’s (1988) seminal work on consumer-object relationships. Their under- standing legitimates the projection of interpersonal behavior theories from psychology onto consumer behavior towards brands. Sternberg’s (2003) components of interpersonal hate can therefore serve as the theoretical basis for the exploration of brand hate within this thesis.

2.5 Sternberg’s Theory of Hate Within a Branding Context

Sternberg’s (2003) duplex theory of hate provides a valuable framework for the purpose of this thesis, as it explains the development of hate and aids the interpretation of many different hate situations (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008). Moreover, it aligns with the above cited basic emo- tions theory (Izard, 1977; Plutchik, 1991) by acknowledging that hate comprehends the basic emotions of fear, anger, and disgust. Thus, according to Sternberg (2003) hate is not just a single emotion but has multiple components; these components can lead to different types of hate and, hence, to different outcomes, i.e. feelings or behaviors. Sternberg theorizes that there are three components of hate: Negation of intimacy, passion, and commitment (see figure 1 below). Depending on the combination of the three components, seven different types of hate can be derived, e.g. ‘cool hate’ where the hating person wishes to have nothing to do with the hated person, or ‘hot hate’ characterized by extreme feelings of anger and a reaction to attack.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1. Components of interpersonal hate. Based on Sternberg (2003, figure 1, p. 307).

The following paragraphs will provide an overview of the three components and how they occur in interpersonal relationships according to Sternberg’s (2003) theory. In addition, it will be hy- pothesized how each component could occur within the consumer-brand connection context.

- Negation of intimacy (disgust): This component describes a person’s wish of emotional distance from another individual, because the individual’s characteristics evoke disgust in the person who experiences hate (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008). Applying this com- ponent onto a consumer-brand connection, it could mean that a consumer has the wish to distance himself from a brand because of the brand’s attributes, its image or marketing activities. Most probably, the feeling of disgust towards a brand will lead to brand avoidance and brand rejection, and thus to lower purchase intentions.
- Passion (anger/fear): The component of passion in brands evokes anger or fear; while anger will lead to approaching the object of hate, fear will lead to avoidance (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008). Within the consumer-brand context this would imply that consum- ers who are angry at a brand will most likely take actions against it, for instance by public rejection and boycott, anti-brand activism, and negative WOM. Fearful consum- ers, on the other hand, can be expected to simply avoid the brand. According to Romani et al. (2015) this feeling is mostly triggered by perceived injustices or norm violations by the corporation.
- Commitment (devaluation/diminution): Commitment in hate “is characterized by cog- nitions of devaluation and diminution through contempt for the targeted group” (Stern- berg & Sternberg, 2008, p. 65). These haters are committed to maintain their feeling of hate and wish to spread their feeling and views among the population so that others will share them (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008). For consumer-brand bonds this component of hate hints at a consumer that is eager to spread negative WOM and to engage in brand boycotts and anti-brand activism. Sometimes behavior of committed haters becomes so extreme that they become single-minded and prejudiced so that their views can hardly be reversed - despite the existence of factual evidence against their views (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008). According to Romani et al. (2015) contempt emerges when ethical and moral superiority are involved (p. 661).


1 Consumer research literature that has focused on consumers’ positive emotions towards brands include Batra, Ahuvia, and Bagozzi (2012), Park, MacInnis, Priester, Eisingerich, and Iacobucci (2010), Thomson, MacInnis, & Park (2005), and Fournier (1998).

2 Theories that treat hate as a by-product include Bandura (1963), Zajonc (2000), and Zimbardo (2004).

3 Allport (1954), for instance, builds his theory of hate onto the existence of prejudice, while Fromm (1965) distinguishes between reactive/rational hate and character-based/irrational hate. Both theories, however, lack in detail, have not been proven, and provide no operationalization of hate (Sternberg & Sternberg, 2008).

4 Authors who have made use of Sternberg’s (2003) triangular theory of love include Shimp & Madden (1988), Carroll & Ahuvia (2006) Albert et al. (2008), Batra et al. (2012), Heinrich et al. (2012), and Albert & Merunka (2013).

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Phenomenon of brand hate. Behavioral consequences and managerial implications
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen  (Nijmegen School of Management)
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Brand Hate, Brands, Brand Management, Consumer Behavior, WOM, Brand Love, Sternberg, brand dislike, emotions, consumer activism, qualitative, in-depth interviews, word-of-mouth, Marken Hass, Konsumentenverhalten
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B.Sc. Teresa Pavelka (Author), 2016, Phenomenon of brand hate. Behavioral consequences and managerial implications, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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