Brand hate is inevitable for every business. As people grow a liking to you, other people start to dislike you. Brand hate is caused by three key emotions: disgust, contempt and anger in different combinations that lead to different behavioral outcomes.
Marketing discussion tends to focus on the positive emotional attributes in branding. You hear people throw around terms such as emotional connection, affective commitment, and even brand love. But we need to consider the other side of the coin too.
What is loved by some is hated by others. Just as people sometimes claim to love certain brands, they also hate brands. Brand hate is arguably more common and can have a major influence on consumer behavior.
In this article, you will learn about brand hate and how it affects the way people interact with brands.
What is brand hate?
Consumers may harbor many different negative feelings towards brands. These include disliking, animosity, distrust and hate. Brand hate is an intense feeling of dislike and hostility that arises from disgust, contempt and anger towards the brand and leads to behavior that has negative consequences for that brand.
Marc Fetcherin, researcher at Rollins College, found that there are in fact five types of brand hate that vary in intensity and are based on the three key emotions above: disgust, contempt and anger.1Fetscherin, M. (2019). The five types of brand hate: How they affect consumer behavior. Journal Of Business Research, 101, 116-127. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.04.017 These are cool hate, hot hate, simmering hate, burning hate and boiling hate and each has its own behavioral implications. I’ll explain these types now.
Disgust causes cool hate and leads to brand switching. It therefore has a passive behavioral as people chose simply not to interact with a brand they hate anymore. In principle, this doesn’t have any more significant business affect than a consumer buying another brand for any other reasons.
Contempt is a strong feeling of disliking and lack of respect. When paired with disgust, the outcome is simmering hate. Simmering hate is a relatively weak emotional response that leads to private complaining, i.e., complaining to family and close friends. It’s nonetheless important to consider as family and close friends are among the most influential reference groups meaning that a complaint because of simmering hate can easily lead to distrust, disliking and even brand hate for those on the receiving end of the complaint.
Burning hate adds anger to the mix and is thus a product of all three emotions: disgust, contempt and anger. Burning brand hate is a strong emotion that leads to more active behavioral outcomes. People experiencing burning hate complain in public such as on social media and review sites which can cause a crisis that needs responding too. As a small business the importance of monitoring this type of behavior cannot be understated as especially brand reviews tend to be incredibly important for the health of the business.
Sometimes, people experiencing burning hate also seek brand revenge. Revenge is an proactive response motivated by a desire to get even with the company. Consumers seeking revenge engage in negative word-of-mouth but they can also take it further and damage company property, brake policies and lash out at employees.2Grégoire, Y., Laufer, D., & Tripp, T. (2010). A comprehensive model of customer direct and indirect revenge: understanding the effects of perceived greed and customer power. Journal Of The Academy Of Marketing Science, 38(6), 738-758. doi: 10.1007/s11747-009-0186-5
Withdrawing contempt, we have boiling hate which is based on disgust and anger. Boiling hate is like burning hate only short-term focused. While burning hate seeks revenge and a desire to get even with the brand in the long run, boiling hate is more about retaliation in the present moment.
Last, there is hot hate; a strong spontaneous response based on pure anger and leads to a willingness to make financial sacrifices to hurt the brand. Fetcherin asked his respondents how much money they were willing to give up to negatively affect a brand which they disliked. He found that 44% of respondents were willing to make such a sacrifice for an average cost of $20.
This sacrifice may take many forms. For example, one way would be to buy a much pricier option just to avoid the hot hated brand, but in all honesty I find this outcome a little fuzzy. Fetcherin doesn’t elaborate or give any examples of how this may take place. He also came up with the behavior through surveys which makes it quite abstract and untested as there is a big difference between self-reported willingness and actual behavior.
Why do people hate brands?
There are many reasons why people hate brands. Some do so because of poor experiences, others may feel they were wronged by the brand or that it took advantage of them while other groups hate brands because they behave immorally and against their own value compass. But there is a slight twist here however.
Acting in an unethical manner is what dominates the narrative of what constitutes brand hate today’s media. So, you would expect brands like Nestlé, B&P, Marlboro, Monsanto and Dupont to populate the lists of most hated brands. On the contrary it’s usually the most liked brands that are also hated the most.3Kucuk, S. (2010). Negative Double Jeopardy revisited: A longitudinal analysis. Journal Of Brand Management, 18(2), 150-158. doi: 10.1057/bm.2010.27 For example, in Fetcherin’s study, Apple was the most hated brand by a mile. LEGO is the most hated brand in the US according to a study by Rave Reviews with Netflix, Red Bull and Tesla all not far behind.
Brand hate is a real thing that its important for you to be aware off. I’m not going to suggest that you start a heavy monitoring of all types of possible brand hate within your consumer base, but Fetcherin’s hate types are nonetheless quite useful in showing that hate is complicated and can both mean and lead to more than one thing.
Even for a small business, hate is pretty inevitable. As people grow to like you, others will grow to dislike you. In cases of more intensity people will hate your brand – and that’s just fine. If no one had anything against you, it’s likely they also had nothing to say about you. A brand that doesn’t get on the wrong side of anyone doesn’t get on the good side of anyone either.
Don’t ignore brand hate but also don’t obsess about it. Be aware of it and just make sure to be genuine, provide quality service and have an open dialogue with your customers.
- 1Fetscherin, M. (2019). The five types of brand hate: How they affect consumer behavior. Journal Of Business Research, 101, 116-127. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.04.017
- 2Grégoire, Y., Laufer, D., & Tripp, T. (2010). A comprehensive model of customer direct and indirect revenge: understanding the effects of perceived greed and customer power. Journal Of The Academy Of Marketing Science, 38(6), 738-758. doi: 10.1007/s11747-009-0186-5
- 3Kucuk, S. (2010). Negative Double Jeopardy revisited: A longitudinal analysis. Journal Of Brand Management, 18(2), 150-158. doi: 10.1057/bm.2010.27