, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 359-374
Date: 17 Mar 2009

The effect of employee behavior on brand personality impressions and brand attitudes

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This research examines how consumers update their brand personality impressions and brand attitudes after interacting with one of the brand's employees. Drawing on stereotyping theory, the author develops a framework that proposes that the impact of an employee's behavior depends on how the employee is categorized. When the employee is considered primarily as an exemplar of the brand's workforce, his or her behavior is generalized more strongly to the brand. When, however, the employee is judged as a relatively unique individual (i.e., when the employee is subtyped), the behavior is not transferred to the brand to the full extent. The results of three studies provide converging evidence and show that the degree to which consumers subtype an employee is determined by the amount of information they possess about the employee, the extent to which they depend on the employee, and their motivation to form an accurate impression. The findings have direct implications for marketers interested in understanding how employees affect the brands they represent.