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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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How Does Religion Affect Consumer Response to Failure and Recovery by Firms?

Journal(s): Journal of Consumer Research
Published: September 3, 2020
Author(s): Jamie D. Hyodo, Lisa E. Bolton

General Description
Religious reminders increase the likelihood of consumer forgiveness of organizational failures. This forgiveness, however, is conditional on the organization making an effort to recover from the failure with a sincere apology. This phenomenon was found across multiple prominent world religions, as well as with non-religious consumers.

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Academic Abstract
How might religion influence consumer behavior in the marketplace? The present research proposes that failure and subsequent firm recovery efforts represent a domain that may be particularly sensitive to religion. Specifically, we demonstrate that religion salience promotes a more positive response to failure when accompanied by recovery. This effect is due to heightened forgiveness, a religious value held by many major world religions, which is triggered by signals of firm repentance. In a series of eight studies, theorizing is extended to the moderating roles of both religiosity (with implications for the religion–forgiveness discrepancy) and recovery content (comparing apology vs. compensation) and evidence of generalizability across several major religious affiliations is provided. This research highlights the importance of religion salience to marketers operating in failure–recovery contexts.

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