Brand Avoidance : A qualitative study on why consumers make conscious decisions to avoid social medial platforms like Facebook
Abstract: Background: Interest in brand avoidance, which is a form of anti-consumption behaviour is growing among scholars, marketers and consumers. The extant literature has focused on the positive attitude consumers have towards brands, failing to account for reasons underlying brand avoidance. Consumers purchase brands and construct their identities through brands that represent positive benefits (Lee et al., 2009a) and avoid brands that add undesired meaning to their lives. Purpose: Social media platforms facilitate the exchange of information among users, and companies use social media platforms as part of their marketing strategy to communicate their brand personality, engage consumers and build long term relationships with them (Ramadan, 2017), yet consumers are deliberately avoiding social media platforms. Five reasons for brand avoidance have so far been identified, but brand avoidance literature has not yet explored a specific social media platform. Leading social media platforms like Facebook are frequently used by consumers to generate content and to engage in social interaction. Consumers’ intention to use Facebook is demonstrated by regular visits to the platform and the time spent on the platform. However, some consumers express dissatisfaction with Facebook and deliberately choose to avoid Facebook. Hence, the purpose of this research is to look into the role of Facebook as an online service provider and explore the reasons behind the decisions to abandon Facebook. Method: The interpretivist paradigm is adopted since brand avoidance in this case concerns the negative relationship between consumers and brands within a social context. Due to the limited literature in brand avoidance this thesis employs an exploratory research design together with a qualitative and abductive approach. In the data collection method, the snowballing sampling technique is used, and this resulted in a sample that includes respondents from diverse geographical backgrounds. The abductive approach is used in coding, analysing and developing the extended brand avoidance model from the 15 semi-structured interviews that were conducted. Conclusion: The findings of this study show that several social media factors can lead to brand avoidance within the social media context. This resulted in an extended brand avoidance model that excludes advertising since Facebook does not advertise. In place of advertising, a new category named social media specific factors is developed. The five components identified were privacy, security, confidentiality, information overload and social overload. The revised framework not only provides insights in the management of brand avoidance, but also adds knowledge into the growing field of brands avoidance for academics and marketing managers by providing new information of an underexplored domain of brand avoidance within the field of social media service.
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