An experimental study into the effects of self-disclosure and crisis type on brand evaluations – the mediating effect of blame attributions

Sabrina M. Hegner*, Ardion D. Beldad, Ruth Hulzink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Brands facing a crisis have to decide whether to disclose crisis-related information themselves or to wait and take the risk that a third party breaks the news. While brands might benefit from self-disclosing the information, it is likely that the impact of crisis communication on customers’ evaluation of the brand depends on the type of crisis. This study aims to investigate the influence of type of crisis on the relationshp between disclosure and brand outcomes. Design/methodology/approach: A 2 × 2 between-subjects experiment with 180 Dutch participants was conducted. Findings: Results show that self-disclosure of a negative incident positively affects consumers’ attitude, trust and purchase intention compared to third-party disclosure. Additionally, disclosure and crisis type interact. In times of a product-harm crisis, self-disclosure does not represent an advantage to third party disclosure, while in times of a moral-harm crisis disclosure by the brand is able to maintain customers’ positive attitude towards and trust in the brand compared to disclosure by a third party. Moreover, blame attribution mediates the effect of crisis type on brand evaluations. Originality/value: Recent research indicates that self-disclosing crisis information instead of waiting until thunder strikes has beneficial effects for a brand in times of crisis. However, these studies use the context of product-harm crises, which neglects the possible impact of moral-harm crises. Furthermore, this study adds the impact of blame attributions as a mediator in this context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-544
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of product and brand management
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2018

Keywords

  • Blame attribution
  • Brand attitude
  • Brand trust
  • Crisis management
  • Disclosure
  • Purchase intention

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