The Influence of Negative Publicity on Brand Equity: Attribution, Image, Attitude and Purchase Intention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This study aims to understand the influence of negative publicity on brand image, brand attitude and brand purchase intention.
Specifically, the study examines the role of attribution (or brand blame) and information characteristics in Chinese consumers’ responses to negative
Design/methodology/approach – The study used a quasi-experimental approach involving two negative publicity scenarios (mild and high
severity) and a sample of 203 young and educated Chinese consumers. Partial least squares was used to test the hypotheses.
Findings – A common assumption is that negative brand information has a negative influence on all aspects of a brand. However, this study finds that brand
blame and information severity have differential effects on consumer evaluations of the affected brand. Specifically, brand blame negatively impacted attitudes
and purchase intentions, but not brand image. In contrast, information severity negatively impacted brand image, but not attitudes or intentions. Further, the
relations between brand image and brand attitudes and intentions depended on the level of information severity. In the mild-severity condition, brand image
positively influenced attitudes and intentions, but not in the high-severity condition.
Research limitations/implications – Future research should examine consumer responses to negative publicity across different media and product
categories. Cross-cultural studies should also be explored in the future.
Practical implications – When a brand encounters negative publicity, its marketer or brand manager should assess to what extent various brand equity
components are influenced by negative publicity before adopting any cognitive-based or imagery-based communication strategies.
Originality/value – This paper contributes to the limited and fragmented literature on consumer response to negative publicity by examining the
impact of consumer’s attributions of blame to the brand under conditions of mild and severe negative information on a range of important brandrelated
outcomes. Specifically, the authors find that negative publicity has a different impact on brand image, brand attitudes and intentions to
purchase. The authors suggest that brand managers use this information to guide their marketing communications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 440-451
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Product & Brand Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2018


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