Consumers' responses to moral controversies of religiously positioned brands: the effects of religiosity on brand loyalty

Rafi M. M. Chowdhury, Denni Arli*, Felix Septianto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose 

This study aims to examine how religiosity influences brand loyalty toward religiously positioned brands (Chick-fil-A, Forever 21, etc.) when these brands engage in morally controversial actions. 

Design/methodology/approach 

Study 1 investigates how religiosity affects brand loyalty when religiously positioned brands engage in religiousness-related vs nonreligiousness-related morally controversial actions. Study 2 examines several psychological processes (reactance, forgiveness and moral decoupling) as mediators of the effects of intrinsic religiosity and extrinsic religiosity on brand loyalty for controversial religious brands. 

Findings 

Study 1 demonstrates that religiosity leads to positive brand loyalty for religiously positioned brands in the case of both religiousness-related and nonreligiousness-related controversies. Study 2 reveals that intrinsic religiosity (extrinsic religiosity) leads to brand loyalty through moral decoupling and forgiveness, but not through reactance, when religious brands engage in religiousness-related (nonreligiousness-related) controversies.

Research limitations/implications 

This research focuses on the effects of religiosity on brand loyalty for morally controversial religious brands but does not examine the effects of religious affiliation (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc.). The samples include only US residents. 

Practical implications 

Religious positioning of brands can engender brand loyalty for consumers with high levels of intrinsic religiosity and/or extrinsic religiosity, even when these brands engage in morally controversial actions. 

Originality/value 

This research shows that religiosity affects brand loyalty for morally controversial religious brands and demonstrates that psychological processes used by consumers to justify support for morally controversial religious brands depend on type of religiosity (intrinsic vs extrinsic) and type of controversy (religiousness-related and nonreligiousness-related).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1398-1433
Number of pages36
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Volume56
Issue number5
Early online date9 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2022

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