Recommended Reading / Theory

A Coal in the Heart

Allison Johnson article

A Coal in the Heart: Self-Relevance as a Post-Exit Predictor of Consumer Anti-Brand Actions
Allison R. Johnson, Maggie Matear, Matthew Thomson

Published by Journal of Consumer Research
Volume 38, Number 1, June 2011 (pp 108-125)
Chicago Journals

This article extends theory around consumer-brand relationship quality by exploring conditions under which such relationships may be transformed into exceptionally negative dispositions toward once-coveted brands. The more self-relevant a consumer-brand relationship, the more likely are anti-brand retaliatory behaviors after the relationship ends. These anti-brand behaviors are diverse: from complaining to third parties, to negative word of mouth, to illegal actions such as theft, threats, and vandalism. In contrast, post-exit consumer-brand relationships that were low in self-relevance but were high in trust, commitment, and satisfaction are less likely to result in anti-brand actions. The role of a discrete product or service failure is also explored, and results suggest that self-relevance may motivate retaliation even in the absence of a so-called critical incident. Ultimately, this research illuminates previously unexplored mechanisms — including self-conscious emotional reactions — that motivate consumer hostility and retaliation.

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