How Brand Relationship Affects Brand Forgiveness : A Qualitative Study within the Retail Industry in a Swedish Cultural Setting
Purpose - Existing research of forgiveness has received substantial notice in the field of psychology. Nevertheless, less is known about forgiveness within a business context. To address this absence, this paper aims to investigate how the brand relationship affects the strategies and influential factors of brand forgiveness from a company perspective after service failures. Furthermore, this paper aims to address challenges and opportunities faced by a brand within the retail industry in a Swedish cultural context. An analytical combination of empirical findings as well as literature on branding, trust repair after negative publicity, and consumer forgiveness is conducted to generate a comprehensive model on how brand relationship affects brand forgiveness.
Design/Methodology/Approach - The research method of this paper is qualitative, and the empirical data is collected through focus groups with Swedish students at Jönköping University using vignette technique. The research approaches used for this study are inductive and abductive.
Findings - A company that successfully implements its branding activities is able to create a positive brand image, which can have a positive influence on the brand-consumer relationship and consequently the forgiveness strategies that companies undertake in cases of service failures. This study suggests that a close brand-consumer relationship increases consumers’ need for brand forgiveness.
Research Limitations and Implications - Due to the limitations of our research, the empirical findings need to be tested in a quantitative study with a large sample size within a Swedish cultural setting in order to be generalized. To generalize the findings from an international perspective, the findings are required to be tested in different cultural contexts in order to investigate potential similarities. This paper suggests that achieving forgiveness from a closely related brand is similar to achieving forgiveness from a close friend. It highlights guidelines for practitioners on how to reach brand forgiveness within the retail industry in a Swedish cultural setting. This thesis suggests that practitioners within the retail industry should focus on building close brand-consumer relationships as it may have a positive influence on the forgiveness strategies that a company undertakes in cases of service failures.
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