The brand biography is a popular topic in marketing today, in which firms author a dynamic, historical account of the events that have shaped the brand over time. Since the story narrative does not require complex information processing by consumers, the brand biography narrative has become an effective way to influence consumers’ brand attitude. Different from the existing studies which usually focus on the underdog brand biography and its influence, this paper examines how underdog and top dog brand biography narratives stimulate consumer empathy, and then strengthens consumers’ brand attitude. This study confirms through four experimental studies that the brand biography can stimulate consumer empathy, thus improving consumers’ brand attitude, while country of brand and consumption observability have a moderate effect on this process. Study 1 (a & b) uses a two-cell-between-participants design which provides support for the notion that the underdog brand biography and the top dog brand biography can stimulate consumer empathy respectively, thus improving consumers’ brand attitude. In study 2, a 2×2-between-subjects experimental design measures respondents’ reaction towards an underdog brand biography over a top dog brand biography under conditions of the brand of developed countries versus emerging countries. Results demonstrate that: (1) consumers will be more likely to improve their brand attitude by the underdog brand biography (compared with the top dog brand biography) under the condition of the brand of emerging countries; (2) consumers will be more likely to improve their brand attitude by the top dog brand biography (compared with the underdog brand biography) under the condition of the brand of developed countries; (3) consumer empathy plays a mediating role in the path. Study 3 uses a 2×2-between-subjects experimental design measures respondents’ reaction towards an underdog brand biography over a top dog brand biography under conditions of public versus private consumption. Results show that: (1) when consuming in private, consumers’ brand attitude is more likely to be affected by the underdog brand biography; (2) when consuming in public, consumers’ brand attitude is more likely to be affected by the top dog brand biography; (3) the brand biography effect is mediated by consumer empathy. In general, this study enriches the theories of the brand biography and the story narrative, and has practical values for Chinese enterprises to use the brand biography to influence consumers’ brand attitude, including transmitting brand images through consumers’ emotional clues, positioning the top dog brand by taking advantage of country images, and coordinating with the consumption situation in the target market.
To Be Underdogs or Top Dogs? The Brand Biography and Consumers’ Brand Attitude: The Mediation Role of Empathy
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 41, Issue 06, pp. 138 - 152 (2019) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2019.06.010
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Cite this article
Shen Zhengshun, Li Huaibin. To Be Underdogs or Top Dogs? The Brand Biography and Consumers’ Brand Attitude: The Mediation Role of Empathy[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2019, 41(6): 138-152.