The inauthentic other: Social comparison theory and brand avoidance within consumer sub-cultures

Charmley, Ryan; Garry, Tony; Ballantine, Paul W.
June 2013
Journal of Brand Management;Jun2013, Vol. 20 Issue 6, p458
Academic Journal
Although much research has been conducted within the field of brand congruence and positive self-concept construction, the scarcity of research on brand avoidance in general, and the relationship between brand avoidance and the construction of self-identity within socio-cultural contexts through social comparison, is conspicuous within the marketing literature. Drawing on social psychology, branding and the consumption sub-culture literature, this research identifies and examines how social comparisons of the perceived authentic and genuine are contrasted with the external, shallow, superficial and inauthentic at a number of levels within a sub-cultural context. Using a qualitative methodology, key identity construction processes culminating in brand avoidance are reported. Taken holistically, these findings reveal that collective brand avoidance is a complex multi-faceted process where brands become the tangible proxy for authenticating acts that distinguish sub-cultural members from outsiders The implications of these findings on the management of brands that convey symbolic meaning are explored.


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