Brand love is an emerging topic in brand management (Batra, Ahuvia and Bagozzi 2012; Yim, Tse and Chan 2008). From Apple to Harley Davison, strongly-loved brands are proliferating. This effect can be explained by two processes. First, brand love is driven by consumers’ strong affections towards a brand (Sternberg 1986). Second, it is driven by the fit between a brand and a consumer’s desired self (Belk 1988). Recently, several once-favored brands (e.g., Esprit, Li Ning) were deserted by consumers. This effect is particularly strong in a transitional economy such as China, where local brands are losing to global rivals in various products (McKinsey Quarterly 2012). It points to a gradual shift in consumers’ love for these brands. This effect unfolds several gaps in the literature. First, like romantic love, brand love is competitive and there are several causes leading to the loss of love for China’s local brands. Enhanced by “perceived globalness”, global brands have stronger appeals than local brands (Batra et al 2012). In addition, local brands have quality stigma linked to infamous product hazards (in milk, toys and tires) in the country. With rising consumption power, many Chinese consumers are outgrowing what local brands may offer and are shifting to foreign brands. More importantly, the shift in brand love goes beyond the consumption power explanation. As Belk (1988), Fournier (1998) and Batra et al (2012) have noted, brands are contributive to a consumer’s extended-self. When a consumer rises in social stature, his/her extended-self may change correspondingly. The replacement of their once-favored local brands suggests that the consumer’s New-Self may operate as a salient moderator for this effect. In contrast, some consumers retain their love for local brands. These consumers may have a strong and persistent value-set that allows them to reaffirm their selfhood. In this regard, self-affirmation may operate as an opposing moderator despite changes in these consumers’ economic well-being. This project focuses on the “Shift of Brand Love” among consumers in a market in transition. We propose an integrative model of Shift of Brand Love using the extant literature (Model of Romantic Love and Extended-Self). The model delineates and empirically validates three antecedents and two opposing moderators of Shift of Brand Love. We shall validate the model using a large scale survey of consumers (2,000) and two laboratory experiments. The project will contribute to our knowledge in brand preferences as well as provide insights to managers.
|Effective start/end date||1/01/15 → 30/06/17|
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