International Journal of Business and Social Science

ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijbss

Consumer Response to Transgression Relevance and Proactive Disclosure
Lauren M. Donovan

When a transgression against consumers occur because of unprincipled management behavior, a brand’s reputation and credibility can be negatively impacted; furthermore, marketers should expect that such transgressions will be judged by consumers unfavorably because attribution of fault lies squarely with the organization. Marketing managers and public relations professionals have a vested interest in understanding if consumers respond differently to transgressions that are relevant (vs. irrelevant) to the values espoused by the organization or brand. In addition, managers must also consider the timing of their response to such transgressions. Organizations should expect that information about unprincipled behavior will eventually surface and should thus, seize the opportunity to frame the message around the transgression. By proactively disclosing transgression information before a third party does, organizations can begin rebuilding trust with current and potential consumers. The current study examined the influence of transgression relevancy and disclosure tactic on attitude and consumer decisional behavior. A two-way ANOVA analysis revealed negative relationships between transgression relevance and attitude, willingness to purchase, and willingness to recommend. Additional analyses revealed positive relationships between proactive disclosure and attitude, willingness to purchase, and willingness to recommend. Organizations should first assess risk and take measures to protect the values and qualities espoused by their brands; organizations should also aim to proactively disclose transgression information in advance of third parties, even under conditions where management has behaved unscrupulously.

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