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The effects of two kinds of corporate publicity on customer-brand relationship


In the recent marketplace, corporate brands are exposed to a variety of corporate publicity, which may elicit unexpected consumer responses and requires more academic attention. This study explores how two kinds of corporate publicity (ability-related vs. social responsibility-related) influence customer-brand relationship. We propose that both kinds of publicity influence customer-brand relationship strength through brand trust and brand affect. In addition, the interaction pattern between the two kinds of publicity is further examined. Two competing hypotheses predicting divergent patterns of the interaction effect are proposed. A 2×2 between-subject experiment is conducted in the context of fast food service industry. Results show that, after controlling the existing customer-brand relationship, social responsibility-related publicity has significant influence on the strength of customer-brand relationship, while ability-related publicity has no such effect, given the fact that consumers probably have developed well-established perceptions on the focal company’s ability. Furthermore, the specific interaction pattern between the two kinds of publicity is consistent with the prediction based on fairness heuristic theory. In addition, brand trust and brand affect play mediating roles in the mechanism through which corporate publicity influences customer-brand relationship.


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Correspondence to Siqing Peng.

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Translated and revised from Nankai Guanli Pinglun 南开管理评论 (Nankai Business Review), 2009, 12(1): 1–12

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About this article


  • corporate publicity
  • social responsibility
  • corporate ability
  • customer-brand relationship
  • brand affect
  • brand trust