Friends or Freeloaders? Encouraging brand conscience and introducing the concept of emotion-based consumer loss mitigation
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Increasingly, brands are able to embed themselves in consumer brand-centric communities. Subsequently, through networks and socialisation processes, convergences around a brand serve as conduits for defining meaning and identity. Using a methodological approach drawing from inductive reasoning and syllogisms, as a basis for conceptual metaphor theory and critical discourse analysis, evidence is gathered from literature reviews – supported by anecdotal evidence, personal observations and experiences. From this, the authors examine the positioning of brands within brand communities, exploring how they can add meaning and authenticity to their consumer-centric friendships. A proposed test of this friendship lies in how brands respond to consumers, when relationships fall short of expectations, and subsequently how these are addressed. The position of the authors is that the more those brands push themselves towards friendships, consumers will respond by expecting some form of loss mitigation, associated more with the intangible aspects of that brand – led by experiential elements and reputation. In the light of this, brands should consider their role in maintaining friendships, beyond consumption-based loyalty and CSR – towards developing a demonstrable Brand Conscience, supported by stakeholders. Furthermore, new thinking suggests that brands should attempt to mitigate the non-functional and emotional losses that consumers may feel, supported by a Brand Conscience.
Keywordsbrand community CSR brand consumer relations ethics brand management
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