Is Brand Equity an Asset or a Liability in Brand Harm Crisis? Buffering and Amplifying Effects and Contingent Conditions
Brand harm crisis often result in negative consumer responses. This thesis addresses the buffering and amplifying theoretical perspectives of brand equity effects. We theorize that brand equity may interplay with the nature of brand-harm crisis in shaping consumer reactions. Results from focus group studies provide interesting insights into the amplifying and buffering effects. Moreover, research findings from two experiment studies show that brand equity amplifies consumer negative responses in a performance-related crisis but only when the crisis is extremely severe. When the crisis becomes less severe, the amplifying effect diminishes from outset. However, in a value-related crisis, the amplifying effect of brand equity is pervasive regardless of the level of crisis severity. The current thesis adds to the extant literature by demonstrating that brand equity can have very complex effects on consumer responses, which are contingent on the severity and domain of a crisis. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.