Why Do We Hate Brands? : A qualitative study of how the dark side of branding is influenced by group identification

University essay from Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi; Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi



The purpose of this thesis was to gain a better understanding of the relatively new concept of Brand Hate. More specifically, how Brand Hate can occur in people with no to little experience with certain brands, so called non-customers.

We want to believe that humans are a rational being that takes decisions based on all the available information and does not jump to conclusions before all options have been exhausted. But upon closer examination theoretical concepts such as brand love can be found. A concept that argues that users of a brand utilize the brand itself in order to internally identify values he or she holds, as well as showcasing those values and personality traits externally to others. With this theory as a basis the relatively new concept of Brand Hate was born. The new concept, posits that there has to be another side of the brand love, where people actually hate or dislike the brand. Up to this point very little research has been done within the area, and that is where the authors of this thesis saw an opportunity to fill a research gap. There has been no previous research attempting to understand WHY these negative feelings comes to present themselves within people. But as soon as the work on the thesis had started another opportunity presented itself, it seemed as though people hate or dislike brands that they themselves does not even use. As a result non-customers became the focal point of investigation of this thesis. 

The research itself included three different focus groups, with in total nineteen respondents that discussed a wide variety of topics. During the sessions the discussions touched upon what brands they disliked, why they disliked them and how the respondents identified with other groups of people. This gave the authors the ability to gain a deeper understanding of the psychological reasoning behind why certain brands the respondents did not use were severely hated or disliked.   

The findings from the research seem to point in one very specific direction, group identification is an integral reason why non-customers started to hate or dislike brands. No matter how good companies are creating an appealing brand, that same brand will always risk to become distorted, as a result of the different targeted user groups. This research shows that people let their emotions and prejudices come between what they perceive a brand to be, and what companies want them to be. The result is people prematurely judging brands based upon the customers of that brand. If the respondents did not like the user group of a certain brand, that same brand would be inscribed with all the negative connotations with the user groups, thereby distorting the public brand image far from what the companies might intend them to be.  

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