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Enough is enough! When identification no longer prevents negative corporate associations

Abstract

Negative publicity has the potential to create negative corporate associations. However, consumers’ identification with a company might moderate the extent of this effect. This article examines the impact of consumer-company identification on reactions to variable levels of negative publicity about a company. Exposing consumers who had strong identification with a company to moderately negative publicity was found to result in less negative corporate associations than for consumers who had relatively weak identification. In contrast, consumers’ levels of identification did not affect reactions to extremely negative information, resulting in equally negative corporate associations for those with strong versus weak consumer-company identification. Thus, strong identification mitigates the effects of moderately negative publicity but does not attenuate the effects of extremely negative publicity. Consumers’ perceptions of and thoughts regarding negative information about a company partially mediated the effect of identification on attitudes and behavioral intentions.

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Correspondence to Sabine A. Einwiller.

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Sabine A. Einwiller (sabine.einwiller@fhso.ch) is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland. She worked on this research as a visiting scholar at the University of Southern California, visiting from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, where she received her Ph.D. She has published in journals such as theJournal of Consumer Psychology and thePersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Her research interests include causes and the measurement of corporate reputation and stakeholder-company identification.

Alexander Fedorikhin (sfedorik@iupui.edu) is an associate professor in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. His research focuses on the intersection of affect and cognition in consumer decision making. He has published in such journals as theJournal of Consumer Research, theJournal of Consumer Psychology, andOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Allison R. Johnson (ajohnson@business.queensu.ca) is an assistant professor of marketing in Queen’s School of Business, Queen’s University. She received her Ph.D. from the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. Her research interests include corporate social responsibility, customer-company identification, and consumer emotion.

Michael A. Kamins (mkamins@marshall.usc.edu) is an associate professor at the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business. Dr. Kamins’s current research interests he in pricing strategy in the context of online auctions as well as in the impact of color on consumers’ perceptions of products. He has published over 40 academic articles and proceedings in major academic journals, including theJournal of Marketing, theJournal of Marketing Research, theJournal of Consumer Research, theJournal of Consumer Psychology, theJournal of Advertising, and theJournal of Advertising Research.

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Einwiller, S.A., Fedorikhin, A., Johnson, A.R. et al. Enough is enough! When identification no longer prevents negative corporate associations. JAMS 34, 185 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1177/0092070305284983

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Keywords

  • consumer-company identification
  • corporate associations
  • negative publicity