The Impact of Brand Presence on Consumer Perceptions of Controversial and Noncontroversial Topics
In light of recent events, there has been a growing concern regarding the consequences for brands that take a stand in controversial matters. However, little attention has been given to the potential implications of brand involvement in noncontroversial matters. This study aims to explore the effects of brand presence in both turbulent and non-turbulent waters. Drawing from a marketing perspective, we delve into the subjective perceptions of consumers, considering their cognitive processes, emotions, personal experiences, and cultural backgrounds. Cognitive processing is identified as a vital factor in facilitating consumers' comprehension and interpretation of brand messages. Additionally, emotions and cultural values play significant roles in shaping consumers' perspectives on controversial topics. Social interactions and peer dynamics further contribute to consumers' perceptions and alignment with viewpoints. Through an experimental study, we examine the influence of controversy levels and brand presence on consumers' perceptions of both the topic and the brand itself. Our findings highlight that consumers tend to perceive branded content associated with controversial topics as more likely to elicit irritation. Notably, the presence of a brand intensifies the perceived disturbance of controversial topics, while noncontroversial topics are considered more disturbing in the absence of a brand. This research sheds light on the intricate relationship between brand presence, consumer perceptions, and controversy, providing valuable insights for brand strategists navigating both turbulent and non-turbulent waters.