Journal of Business Research 62 (2009) 169 – 180
Anti-consumption and brand avoidance☆
Michael S.W. Lee a,⁎, Judith Motion b,1 , Denise Conroy a,2 b
Department of Marketing, The University of Auckland Business School, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand Department of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Commerce, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia Received 1 June 2007; received in revised form 1 November 2007; accepted 1 January 2008
Abstract This article focuses on a particular form of anti-consumption; brand avoidance. Specifically, it explores why people may avoid some brands, even when their financial circumstances allow them the option to purchase. The authors use qualitative data to develop a conceptual framework that helps clarify why consumers avoid certain brands. This study reveals three types of brand avoidance: experiential, identity and moral brand avoidance. Experiential brand avoidance occurs because of negative first hand consumption experiences that lead to unmet expectations. Identity avoidance develops when the brand image is symbolically incongruent with the individual's identity. Moral avoidance arises when the consumer's ideological beliefs clash with certain brand values or associations, particularly when the consumer is concerned about the negative impact of a brand on society. Finally, this study highlights potential strategies that managers could implement to deal with brand avoidance. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Keywords: Brand avoidance; Anti-consumption; Undesired self; Consumer resistance; Negative symbolic consumption
1. Introduction Consumers often purchase brands for the many positive benefits they represent. Much research confirms the notion that consumers express themselves, and construct their identities/ self-concepts through the brands they use (Aaker, 1999; Belk, 1988; Dolich, 1969; Grubb and Grathwohl, 1967; Hogg, Cox, and Keeling, 2000; Levy, 1959; McCracken, 1989; Sirgy, 1982; Solomon, 1983). In contrast, less research focuses on the reverse notion, where consumers reject specific brands in order to avoid adding undesired meaning to their life, with the exception of a few studies (Banister and Hogg, 2004; Englis and ☆ The authors thank Karen Fernandez and Mike Hyman for managing the double blind review process for this article, and the two reviewers for their helpful comments. The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology provided funding for this study (project number UOWX0227). ⁎ Corresponding author. Tel.: +64 9 3737 599x85953. E-mail addresses: email@example.com (M.S.W. Lee), firstname.lastname@example.org (J. Motion), email@example.com (D. Conroy). 1 Tel.: +61 2 4221 3796. 2 Tel.: +64 9 3737599x87286.
Soloman, 1997; Holt, 2002; Kozinets and Handelman, 2004; Muniz and Hamer, 2001; Thompson and Arsel, 2004; Thompson, Rindfleisch, and Arsel, 2006). Although traditional consumer research focuses predominately on the positive consumption of brands, interest in anticonsumption is growing, as seen in this special issue. Furthermore, within the domain of symbolic consumption, some researchers suggest that knowing what consumers do not want is just as valuable as knowing what they want (Banister and Hogg, 2004; Ogilvie, 1987; Patrick, MacInnis, and Folkes, 2002; Wilk, 1997). In the spirit of this special issue, this article explores the relationship between consumers, negative brand meanings and anti-consumption, and in doing so, provides some answers to the question: what motivates the anti-consumption of certain brands? A wide variety of brand definitions exist. This article adopts the view that a brand is a multi-dimensional marketing tool that communicates a constellation of values (de Chernatony and Dall'Olmo Riley, 1998). In contrast, marketing literature rarely mentions the concept of brand avoidance and provides no formal definition. Indeed,...