ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (5): 709-720.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.00709

• Conceptual Framework • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Double valence coping strategies for damaged brands in the social media environment: From the perspective of group polarization theory

WANG Xingang1, LI Zulan2(), ZHANG Ting1   

  1. 1School of Business Administration, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan 430073, China
    2School of Management, Wuhan College, Wuhan 430212, China
  • Received:2022-09-18 Online:2023-05-15 Published:2023-02-13
  • Contact: LI Zulan


From the perspective of social media group polarization, how should enterprises with strong stereotypes deal with the damage causing by weak stereotyped consumers? Previous studies have focused on enterprises harm to consumers and their responses, less attention has been paid to how enterprises responses after being harmed by consumers. The difference lies in the shifting of the roles of harmer and victim, as well as the shifting of the contrast between strength and weakness. In view of this, based on the theory of group polarization, this paper conducts research on the core issue of “how to deal with damaged brands to obtain/eliminate polarized support/opposition of onlooker consumer groups in the social media environment”, and explore the double valence coping strategies.
According to the logical framework of group polarization theory: information persuasion strategy-group emotional resonance-group polarization results, we carry out three studies in general. (1) From the perspective of damaged brands, how should enterprises with strong stereotypes express their sad expression in order to gain polarized support from onlooker consumer groups? The conclusion is expected to be that enterprises adopted anthropomorphism (vs. non-anthropomorphic) and expressed group sympathy play a continuous mediating role in the context of social media, when infringing consumers cause brand harm. (2) From the perspective of onlooker consumer groups, how can enterprises with strong stereotypes unite with onlooker consumer groups to gain support from their group polarization? Expected conclusion is that the enterprise appealing for victim transfer (vs. no victim transfer) will make onlookers consumer groups have group polarization support, and the group-hate resonance of onlookers consumer groups to infringing consumers plays a mediating role in the social media environment, when infringing consumers cause damage to the brand. (3) From the perspective of infringing consumers, how to eliminate the polarization of onlooker consumer groups caused by enterprises punishing infringing consumers? Expected conclusion is that in the context of social media, victim significance ( victim significance) will weaken or even eliminate the group polarization of onlooker consumer groups to brands, and the group anger resonance of onlookers to brands plays a significant mediating role.
Overall, the theoretical contributions of this study are mainly reflected in the following three aspects First, from the perspective of research questions, this study puts forward a new research direction on how enterprises should deal with consumers' brand damage in the social media environment, filling in the theoretical system of brand crisis response; Second, from a theoretical perspective, this study proposes group polarization as an effective test basis and explanation mechanism support for damaged brand coping strategies, which expands the theoretical construction and explanation of brand crisis response. Third, from the perspective of individual infringing consumers, based on the theory of group polarization, in this study different appeal methods are proposed from the perspectives of victims, victims and onlookers, which will enrich the specific strategies for brand crisis response. In addition, based on the conclusions expected of this study, the management implications can be summarized as the following points. First, from the perspective of enterprises, this study provides valuable guidance on how damaged brands with strong stereotypes can "obtain/eliminate" the polarized "support/opposition" of onlooker consumer groups in the social media environment. Second, from the viewpoint of industry, conclusions of this study have reference significance for how the strong party should respond after being hurt by the weak party in the fields of government, education, and medical care. Finally, from a social perspective, the expected conclusions in this study can alleviate or eliminate the huge risks and adverse consequences brought by the negative polarization of groups in the social media environment to the whole society.

Key words: social media, group polarization, sad expression, victim migration appeal, victim significance

CLC Number: