Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 158, Issue 3, pp 699–711 | Cite as

How Does Brand Age Influence Consumer Attitudes Toward a Firm’s Unethical Behavior?

  • Chi ZhangEmail author
  • Saim Kashmiri
  • Melissa Cinelli
Original Paper


This paper identifies brand age as an important factor in consumers’ brand evaluations following unethical firm behavior. In two experiments, we assess the effect of brand age on three types of brand evaluations: perceived quality, brand credibility, and behavioral intentions following a brand crisis. The findings suggest that disclosing an older brand’s age can not only improve consumers’ brand evaluations in general, but can also provide a buffering effect when the firm is involved in unethical behavior. Moreover, the relationship between brand age and consumers’ post-crisis intentions is mediated by perceived brand credibility. By exploring consumers’ attitudes following the most common firm response strategies, this research also identifies a boundary condition of the mitigating effect of brand age. Several significant implications for practitioners are discussed.


Brand age Firm unethical behavior Brand credibility 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BusinessUniversity of IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA
  2. 2.School of BusinessThe University of MississippiUniversityUSA
  3. 3.School of BusinessThe University of MississippiUniversityUSA

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