The role of brand attachment in brand-related bragging
Sekhon, Tejvir Singh
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Bragging about brands on social media is pervasive. When bragging about brands, communicators face a trade-off between enhancing perceptions of their competence versus lowering perceptions of their warmth or likability. Likewise, for brands, bragging can increase the brand’s visibility but can convey negative brand-user imagery that detracts from the equity of the brand. Across four experimental studies, this dissertation shows how signaling brand attachment moderates the effects of brand-related bragging on both the perceptions of communicators and brand-user imagery. Results from the first two studies show that mentioning a high status brand in social media communications leads to negative evaluations when the communicator is not seen as attached to the brand, and positive evaluations when brand attachment is signaled. Using brand attachment cues while bragging leads the audience to infer that the communicator talks about the brand because of intrinsic motives such as personal enjoyment, versus extrinsic motives such as status-signaling, resulting in favorable communicator impressions and brand-user imagery. The last two studies show that the beneficial effects of using brand attachment cues while bragging are mitigated if the cues are seen as non-credible or non-diagnostic of motives in a particular communication context. This research develops a theoretical framework for brand-related bragging and suggests practical ways to manage the trade-offs involved for both communicators and brands. Further, it opens new avenues for research by providing a social perception lens on consumer-brand relationships and showing that there are benefits of signaling one’s brand attachment for both consumers and brands in terms of impressions formed by the audience.