Inspire me to purchase: Consumers’ personal control and preference for underdog brand positioning

Yangyi (Eric) Tang*, Alex S L Tsang

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Many marketers choose to position their brands as underdogs instead of top dogs in the marketplace. Research suggests that underdog positioning may elicit favorable consumer responses, although little is known about when it is more effective. To address this gap, we examine how personal control influences consumers’ responses to underdog (vs. top dog) positioning. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that low-control consumers prefer brands positioned as underdogs because the passion and determination exemplified in underdog positioning can inspire those consumers to cope with their loss of control. Studies 3 and 4 show that low-control consumers’ relative preference for underdog positioning is moderated by both their shopping orientation and the causal attribution for their loss of control. We discuss the practical implications of these results for effective marketing communications and the theoretical implications for the growing research on underdog positioning and customer inspiration.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)101-109
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Business Research
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Marketing

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Branding
    • Inspiration
    • Personal control
    • Positioning strategy
    • Underdog


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