To forgive or retaliate? How regulatory fit affects emotional reactions and repurchase decisions following product failures

Gizem Atav, Subimal Chatterjee*, Rajat Roy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: When a product fails out of negligence on the seller’s part, consumers can either disengage from the brand/seller, more so if encouraged by a third party (e.g., lawyer) to do so, or reengage with the brand/seller should the seller admit responsibility/apologize. In this research, we examine how the fit between the frame of the message sent by the seller/third party (promotion or prevention frame) and the consumer’s temporally induced regulatory orientation (promotion/prevention focus) affects such reengagement/disengagement intentions. 
Design, methodology, approach: We conduct two between-subjects laboratory experiments. We temporally induce a promotion or prevention orientation in our participants and thereafter ask them to imagine experiencing a product failure and listening to (1) the CEO apologize for the harm (eliciting sympathy/reengagement), or (2) a lawyer invite them to seek damages for the harm (eliciting anger/disengagement). We frame the messages from the CEO/lawyer such that they either fit with a promotion mindset or a prevention mindset. 
Findings: We find that although a frame-focus fit (compared to a frame-focus misfit) engenders reengagement universally across promotion and prevention oriented consumers, the same fit encourages more disengagement among prevention-oriented than promotion-oriented consumers. 
Practical implications: Our results suggest that managers can lessen the fallout from product failures by putting consumers in a promotion mindset. Such a mindset not only strengthens the effect of a promotion framed apology, it also makes consumers less receptive to messages encouraging that they seek damages or otherwise disengage from the firm.
Originality/value: Our paper is the first to examine the emotional underpinnings of the “feeling right” phenomenon arising from the frame-focus fit between message frame and regulatory orientation. We show that whereas sympathy gives rise to feeling right about forgiving/reengaging with the brand/seller, anger gives rise to feeling right about retaliating/disengaging from the brand/seller
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jun 2021

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